Summer is the perfect season for picnicking. Here in the Veneto region of Italy, we’re lucky enough to enjoy many months of ideal al fresco weather every year. You’ll frequently find my enjoying a spontaneous wine and cheese snack on a blanket in the grass, but we’re known to go all out when it comes to packing a picnic, too.
Over the years, we’ve learned the right way and wrong way to pack a picnic. All it really takes to prepare a delicious, unfussy excursion is a little planning ahead. From the Candoni De Zan family to yours, here are some foolproof tips for packing the perfect summer picnic.
Consider the Elements
Of course, you don’t want to picnic on a rainy day! Even if the weather should be clear, consider whether the ground might be wet from dew or rain – if so, plan to picnic at an outdoor table nearby. What will the weather by like while you’re eating? If you’ll be in direct sunlight and the temperature will be warm, consider packing foods that don’t require refrigeration. You may also want to pack your wine – a beautiful Italian white blend works beautifully with a variety of picnic foods! – in an insulated bag so it will stay perfectly chilled.
Choose Food Wisely
Picnics should be casual and above all else, easy. Easy to eat, easy to unpack, and easy to clean up afterwards. We love food that doesn’t require utensils to eat: marinated olives, pre-sliced salami, fresh cut fruit. When in doubt, always choose food items that are less of a food safety risk, i.e. skip the egg salad and choose the roasted veggies instead. Resealable containers help keep spills at bay and can be used for cleanup when you’re finished eating. Don’t forget plenty of napkins and baby wipes for hand-cleaning, too!
Use Multiple Bags
There’s nothing quainter than a wicker picnic basket lined with red gingham. However, traditional picnic baskets aren’t all that ergonomic and they can be very heavy! We like to pack multiple bags so everyone can carry a small part of the party. One bag for colder foods, insulated and filled with ice packs; one bag for extras like napkins, plates, and a trash bag; one bag for wine that includes a wine opener, small plastic wine cups, and at least one bottle of wine for every two people.
It’s All About the Wine
No picnic is complete without a couple of bottles of seasonal wine! We love white wines for al fresco dining; Italian Pinot Grigio is a classic, and Prosecco always boosts the mood. Don’t forget about lighter warm weather reds, though, like a perfectly balanced Pinot Noir. When bringing red to a picnic, our favorite trick is to transfer the wine from the bottle into a large resealable bottle just before leaving home so it can breathe on the way to the event. Less weight, too! When choosing a picnic wine, consider the menu, the crowd, and the weather most of all. But don’t overthink it – just make sure you bring enough to share!
All this talk about picnicking makes me want to spend the afternoon noshing on antipasti on the Tenuta Polvaro patio! With a glass of deliciously summery Rosé, of course.
Do you have any perfect picnicking tips you’d like to share? We love to hear from fellow al fresco enthusiasts. Feel free to comment below or on the Candoni Wines Facebook page!
Barbara Candoni De Zan