Top 10 Wines For Picnic #SundaySupper

When I saw this week’s Picnic #SundaySupper theme I was pretty stoked. I love to picnic! Especially in wine country. Nothing says spring or summer to me more than sitting in a vineyard with a basket full of goodies and a glass of wine, taking in the bucolic landscape.  Often, when I have found myself suggesting a visit to wine country to friends, who reply “I don’t drink wine”,  I suggest they go anyway because where there are vineyards you’ll find beautiful tranquil scenery. Check out the view below!  Wine or no wine it’s stunning!

Top 10 Wines For Picnic #SundaySupper

View from the picnic area at Gustafson Family Winery overlooking Lake Sonoma in Geyserville, CA

And speaking of wine, I think it’s important to know that picnic wines are different from BBQ wines. BBQ is all about bold and spicy flavors, whereas picnic foods compose a broader range of lighter foods like salads of all kinds, cold fried chicken, charcuterie, cheeses, ripe fruits etc., mostly served cold. Great picnic wines should be light and refreshing, a good match for a variety of foods, and inexpensive (>$20).

My top 10 wines for picnics are:

  1. Sparkling Wine
  2. Rosé
  3. Sparkling Rosé
  4. Chardonnay (preferably unoaked or lightly oaked)
  5. Sauvignon Blanc
  6. Riesling
  7. Vinho Verde
  8. Moscato
  9. Grüner Veltliner
  10. Beaujolais

Check out the this week’s fantastic lineup of creative and inspired picnic food put together by the #SundaySupper family of foodies, and my specific wine pairing recommendations.

Pair these dishes with a sparkling wine. Sparkling Wines are probably the most under rated food friendly wine there is.  That’s because its crisp acidity and effervescence, which cleanses the palate and gets it ready for the next bite (think “scrubbing bubbles”). One of my favorites for under $20 is Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley.  It has a creamy, fresh-cut green apple, pear, and hazelnut with a kiss of vanilla character.   Here’s another advantage of sparkling wines — Forget the corkscrew? — No problem with sparklers!! 

Pair these dishes with a Rosé.  Look for the 2012 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone Corallina Napa Valley Syrah Rosé It’s a 100% Syrah with a medium-bodied, fresh strawberry, raspberry, citrus, and mineral character.

One of my favorite picnic wines is sparkling Rosé.  It’s the ultimate in vinous synergy – combining the acidity, effervescence of bubbly with the overall food friendliness of Rosé.  If I had to choose a bottle of wine for a picnic and didn’t know what was being served it would be a sparkling Rosé for me.  Try the Jean-Louis Denois Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, which is made from 100% Pinot Noir!

Pair these dishes with a Chablis, which is made from Chardonnay. Most Chablis are un-oaked which allows the purity of Chardonnay’s aromas and flavors to shine. They also posses a unique minerality that add to its appeal for many.  Look for the 2010 Chateau de Maligny Chablis “Vielles Vignes”.  It dense, crisp, and refreshing with stone-fruit, citrus, green plum and mineral character. 

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc, I recommend the 2011 Dashwood Sauvignon BlancIt has a stone fruit, citrus and fresh tropical fruit aromas and flavors. 

Pair these dishes with Riesling.  I love the 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling. It’s just slightly off-dry  with vibrant acidity and a beautiful white peach, grapefruit and mineral character.

Pair these dishes with Vinho Verde, a wine from Portugal. Vinho Verde isn’t a grape variety.  It literally translates into “green wine”, but means “young wine” – as in its meant to be consumed within a year of two of bottling.  Vinho Verde is made in white, red, and rose styles.  They are typically low alcohol, and have a bit of effervescence which further enhance its refreshing qualities.  Look for 2012 Quinta da Aveleda.

Pair these dishes with Grüner Veltliner, a refreshing, medium-bodied, peppery white wine with stone fruit flavors.  Grüner Veltliner goes with everything from green salads to cold poached salmon to fried chicken. Look for 2011 Stadlmann Gruner Veltliner.  It has a green apple, tropical fruit, lime, white pepper character with a great mouthfeel and an mineral undertone. 

I haven’t forgotten about red wine for picnics and you shouldn’t either!  I know a red wine isn’t top of mind for most. But, hey it’s summer, it’s hot, you love red wine! Find one that is low in tannins, and bright fruit.  Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Grenache (especially from Spain) come to mind. Pair these dishes with a Beaujolais,an outstanding red picnic wine   Look for the  2010 Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly “Vieilles Vignes” Cru Beaujolais.  It has a black raspberry, floral, and asian spice character. Can’t find a Beaujolais?  Then go with your favorite Pinot Noir – a similar style of wine. 

If your taste in wine leans toward the sweeter side, try Moscato. It’s like summertime in a glass with its fruity orange blossom, tropical, citrus, or melon aromas and a touch of effervescence. And if you’ve got something spicy in your picnic basket, the sweetness will tame the heat. The best are from Italy. Pair these desserts with the 2011 Ecco Domani Moscato.

Here are the rest of this week’s desserts and drinks (be sure to check out the Sangria –  another great picnic wine!):



Check back on Sunday for all the recipes! You can join in the chat on Twitter too: we’ll tweet throughout the day and share all of our picnic recipes. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. To join in, just follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets. You can also check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and photos.

Pairing Wine with #SundaySupper Comfort Food Favorites

When I saw the theme for this week, “Pairing Wine with #SundaySupper Comfort Food Favorites”, my mind was flooded with thoughts of some of my favorite comfort foods.  The thoughts seemed to come in chronological order.  My first thoughts were of my favorite comfort food when I was a child – Grilled Cheese sandwiches prepared with a ton of butter slathered on the bread, with a couple of sliced of American cheese, and a tomato! Then came my adolescent years and Beef Stroganoff, made with ground beef, popped into my head.  Isn’t it amazing how you connect food to certain memories in your life?

Seafood Gumbo

My favorite comfort food – Seafood Gumbo; Image courtesy of

Then I had to ask myself the $64,000 question – If you HAD to pick one favorite comfort food what would it be. After what was a few seconds, but seemed longer, of running through a myriad of possibilities, I ultimately came back to my first thought – Seafood Gumbo.  I make it each year for New Year’s Day.  We invite my folks, kids and friends by to share the deliciousness and good times.  Thinking of it puts a smile on my face.  For me, that’s the essence of the #SundaySupper movement – breaking bread with family, and friends, and making memories!

Check out this week’s dazzling array of comfort foods from the #SundaySupper team!  My recommended wine pairing are italicized.  Cheers!

Comfort Food |Soups

Pair these soups with Chardonnay.  Look the 2010 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which is widely available. It displays aromatic citrus, pear and hints of floral aromas that are followed by citrus, buttered toast and a hint of honey flavors.

Pair these soups with an Old World Sauvignon Blanc, which tends to have more minerality that New World Sauvignon Blancs. Look for the 2011 Domaine Cherrier Père & Fils Sancerre from France.  It displays a delightful lemon curd, verbena and herbal character.  

Pair these soups with a red Rhone Blend.  I recommend the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas (the white wine version is recommended for some main dishes below), a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. The Syrah adds dark fruit, flavors and spice.  The Grenache brightens the flavors and add acidity, while the Mourvèdre adds meatiness,  and the Counoise adds a bit of complexity.

Comfort Food  | Main Dish

Pair these main dishes with a Blanc de Noir style sparkling wine.  A Blanc de Noir is made with dark-skinned grapes used to make red wines like Pinot Noir , Pinot Meunier and/or other grapes.  I recommend the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir.  It’s made with  90% Pinot Noir, and has wonderful red fruit and vanilla aromas are followed by creamy red fruit and citrus flavors. 

Pair these dishes with a Chardonnay.  Look for one that is moderately oaked such as the 2010 Wild Horse Unbridled Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley. It has a been aged in French oak for a few months.  It has a creamy lemon, green apple, and creme brulee character accented by fresh acidity and a touch a minerality.

 Pair these dishes with a white Rhone blend.  What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc.  It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.  It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate.  It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner. 

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with enticing grapefruit, and tropical aromas with juicy stone fruit,  and tropical fruit flavors. This one is available at Costco.

Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir.  I recommend the 2011 Hahn Winery California Pinot Noir. It has wonderful cherry, lavender, and spice aromatics, that follow onto the palate.
Pair these dishes with a Sangiovese. Look for the 2009 Ninety+ Cellars Reserve Lot 57 Rosso Toscana.  It’s a blend of mostly Sangiovese (80%) with the balance split between Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Therefore it’s a what’s referred to as a “Super Tuscan”.  It’s loaded with blackberry, black cherry, and spice character.
Pair these hearty dishes with a hearty wine.  I recommend the 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Contra Old Vine Field Blend.  It’s a rich blend of Carigane, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah loaded with dark fruit, spice, and a bit of smoke aromas and flavors.
Pair these dishes with a hearty Zinfandel.  Look for the 2009 Artezin Mendocino County Zinfandel.  It’s a well-balanced Zinfandel with plum, clove and spice aromas, followed by raspberry, plum, black cherry, and spice flavors. 

Comfort Food | Desserts

Pair these desserts with a sweet Moscato wine.  Try the 2011 Ecco Domani Moscato with its slightly spritzy mandarine orange, nectarine and honeysuckle character.

Pair this dessert with the 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling a blend of 89% Riesling and 11% Muscat Gordo. It’s a slightly fizzy wine with very fresh acidity, that displays pear, guava, citrus and floral aromas, followed by peach, pear and a hint of mango flavors.  Available at Costco. 

Pair these wine delightful desserts (except the Smores Hot Cocao which will be just fine on its own!) with Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port

We have a very special guest this week, Lee Woodruff, wife, mother of four, author, CBS This Morning contributor and  founder of  We would be honored to have you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite Comfort Food Recipes.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your easy go to recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.

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