Today is International Picnic Day, which has me thinking, of course, about picnics! There’s something so sweet and romantic about a picnic in the park, but it can take some pretty careful planning. It’s not as easy as it looks! To make it a picnic to remember, it helps to think ahead.
There are many elements to consider – and the weather is perhaps the most important of all – but not just the rain forecast. If it’s anywhere near as hot in your area as it is in Atlanta right now (98ºf), you’ll need to consider your food and wine selections, available shade, and then there are our insect friends.
The south is buzzing with mosquitoes, flies, bees, and all sorts of pesky bugs that can take your picnic from romantic to ruined in minutes. If your share our abundance of flying pests, make sure that you have plenty of covers for your food, and that you apply a safe, non-toxic repellant (in case the mood leads to a few romantic ‘nibbles’ of your own.) Rivers and lakes are beautiful places to visit, but keep the critters in mind if you plan to picnic near one.
When selecting food for your romantic meal consider the following. Will you be outdoors for a long time? Will you bring coolers? Some foods keep much better than others, so if you’re making a day of it it’s best to avoid prepared foods that contain dairy and mayonnaise unless they can be kept very cold. Many kinds of cheese, however, like Brie, Camembert, or Chevre are actually better served at room temperature so they become creamy and deliciously spreadable. Also remember take plenty of water along – you’ve got to stay hydrated!
On to my favorite part of any picnic – the wine! I love red wine more than some people love their pets, but I don’t want to drink it warm on a hot summer day, especially not outside! If you must take red, select a nice Pinot Noir or maybe a Beaujolais…and do yourself a favor by keeping it in the cooler. It will warm quickly enough once you take it out. The safest, most refreshing bet is to take a light, crisp white wine like an Italian Fiano or a Chenin Blanc, or maybe a dry Riesling or Rosé…and there are lovely acrylic wine glasses to drink these from, so find a few for your basket.
If you’re picnicking in a public area, make sure that you know the rules in advance. Some parks don’t allow alcohol, some don’t allow glass.
If I were to offer a single piece of advice, I’d say don’t skimp on the details. Invest in a good picnic basket, bring nice dishes and utensils, decorate (think flowers), spread a lovely blanket and for goodness sake don’t forget the wine!!