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Perfect Wine for a Picnic

Despite the fact that much of the country is buried in snow right now, that shouldn’t stop you from dreaming of the warmer weather of spring and summer! Don’t worry: sunny days, summer food, outdoor dates with friends, and delicious wine are not too far away. In just a few short months, the temperature will heat up, the days will get longer and you know what that means – picnic season! 

What to look for in a picnic wine

When searching for the perfect picnic wine, it is important to keep the following factors in mind. A good picnic wine is a wine that:

  • You already love!
  • Is refreshing on a warm day
  • Is well-balanced and not too overpowering
  • Pairs well with foods of all kinds

When imagining a refreshing wine to sip outdoors in the sun, don’t feel restricted to just white wine! Vibrant and fruit-forward wines don’t have to be white – reds can be equally delicate and delicious on a warm afternoon. Refreshing and light reds that are low in tannins and alcohol levels will not overpower your food while still bringing bright flavors to the table. 

Aim to find reds that feature a light to medium body and dry taste. Wines that are too heavy, sweet, or intense may distract from the delicate picnic fare. Long story short, if you are a red wine lover, embrace it! There is no reason not to enjoy your favorite Byrd Vineyard wines outdoors with a variety of picnic foods.

Picnic foods to pair with wine

Salads of all kinds

Sunny days call for lighter meals featuring bright flavors and fresh fruits and vegetables. Enter: summer salads. Summer is the prime time of year for salads of all kinds, whether the fruit, vegetable, potato, or pasta variety. Whatever you’re craving, you won’t go wrong pairing with elegant Byrd Vineyard wine.

Upgrade your grandma’s potato salad recipe to this (lighter) herbed potato salad with lively flavors of fresh parsley and pair with our 2010 Byrd Merlot. Fruit-forward with herbaceous notes, the wine is sure to complement the herby potatoes. Similarly, this lemon herb pasta salad is bursting with vibrant summer flavors that would pair beautifully with our luscious and herbaceous 2010 Byrdeaux

More traditionally, a grilled summer cobb salad like this one that features tomatoes, corn, avocados, and goat cheese would pair beautifully with our 2010 Byrd Merlot. Feeling fancier? This steak and blue cheese salad would deliciously complement our 2012 Byrd Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino. You can never go wrong pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with meaty dishes, especially when complemented with cheese. Lastly, a summer fruit salad filled with fresh, ripe fruits would pair wonderfully with any of our fruit-forward red wines — whether as the main course or for dessert!


With so many varieties to choose from, you can never go wrong bringing sandwiches to a picnic! Impress your friends with light and summery options like Caprese sandwiches or a herbed chicken salad. Craving something heavier such as ham and cheese sliders or a classic roast beef sandwich? You can’t go wrong! Whichever sandwich you pick, pair with our well-balanced 2009 Byrd Cabernet or smooth and energetic 2012 Byrd Vineyard Red Wine Mendocino.

Charcuterie Boards

It wouldn’t be a picnic without an array of meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits, and nuts to snack on! Build a legendary charcuterie board with salami, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, brie, cheddar, havarti, gouda, crackers, berries, almonds, pistachios, French bread, jams, and whatever else comes to mind. Be creative! Once your epic masterpiece comes together, spend the afternoon grazing with friends and sipping on the best of the best — our Double Gold Medal-winning 2012 Byrd Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino. Silky, rich, and bold, this wine is sure to elevate any picnic into a meal worthy of five stars.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Corkscrew – This seems obvious, but you’ll regret it if you leave your wine opener at home! 
  • Cups of some kind – Glasses, tumblers, even plastic cups will work! As long as you have some vessel for your wine (ideally one that is not easily breakable and easily transported), you’re good to go.
  • Cooler and ice – Even though red wine isn’t normally enjoyed cooled down, you want to make sure it doesn’t overheat in the hot summer sun. You can serve slightly chilled or allow for the wine to heat back up to cellar temps. 

The key to a great picnic is starting with foods you love and not being afraid to experiment with different wines. Even wines that you never would have thought would complement your favorite picnic bites are worth a try! Be creative. After all, spring is the time to have fun and try new things – that includes awakening your taste buds with delicious new flavor combinations. 

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