For the devout consumer of wine, no camping trip is worth all the time and energy spent preparing if you don’t also pack the perfect camping wines.
Get yourself a set of GoVino firm plastic wine glasses and scope out the ice situation wherever you’re heading to ensure your whites and sparkling wines get a proper chill, right alongside the reds. Because chances are it will be warm where you’re camping, and a nice chilled red to wind down the night will be a welcome and beautiful thing.
As for the precise wine to bring, that depends on what you’re eating. We’ve compiled a list of some of our camp-favorite wine pairings below. Oh, one last thing—just don’t forget a corkscrew.
Watermelon and Rosé
Until you’ve tried this, you just don’t know what you’re missing. This is an especially appealing pairing because many rosé wines—not just American-made ones with their rich tropical flavors, but global examples from France, Italy, and Spain—tend to showcase gorgeous ripe red fruit aromas and flavors, typically ranging from strawberry to cherry and—watermelon. We certainly will not judge any of you who attempt to dunk your chunk of watermelon in your perfectly-chilled, watermelon-tinged rosé. After all, you’re camping, and experimentation is required.
Cheese and Charcuterie and Sparkling Wine
So many cheeses, so little time. Okay, you’ve got some hard cheeses, soft ones, and medium-soft ones. You’ve got tangy, tart, creamy, and rich examples. Some are grassy and wrapped in cedar, some are gamey and set in ash. You’ve got a mix of cow, sheep, and goat. You’ve got all these great cheeses, maybe some hard salumi or prosciutto, and now, you need a glass of sparkling wine to wash down each and every bite. Sparkling wine has enough bracing acidity to cleanse your palate with each sip so that no matter the cheese or charcuterie before, the next bite will offer its maximum flavor capacity to you.
Grilled Shrimp and Sauvignon Blanc
You’ve got the shrimps on skewers and the charcoals glowing hot. Hopefully, you brought along some kind of herbed-up marinade for the shrimp, but even generous dashes of salt and pepper will do. Now, make sure you stocked up on ice and have your Sauvignon Blanc well-chilled. It will be a perfect match for those tender, seasons shrimp, especially those seasoned with herbs, which will bring out any grassy, tangy notes in the wine while providing a palate-cleansing rinse as you bite into that side of corn on the cob or scoop up a forkful of potato salad.
Potato Chips and White Blends
Speaking of potatoes… bags of your all-time favorite potato chips are de rigueur for camping. And you’ll want a mix—salt and pepper, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Maui-style. For these, look to rich, viscous, white blends that can match the oiliness in the potato chip while offering enough crisp acidity to cut through the fat of the chip. We love those with Semillon or Sauvignon Gris and any white blends treated to a generous amount of oak aging.
Grilled Lobster Tails and Chardonnay
Forget the shrimp. Get serious with the freshest lobster tails while on your camping adventure. The best thing about lobster tails is that they are incredibly easy to prepare. Bring along some good shears, cut through the shell down the middle and then slice the tails in half with a good, sturdy knife. When the coals are hot, toss them on the grill, shell-side down, and smother them in tarragon-infused butter with a bit of salt and pepper. After five minutes, flip them so the tender lobster meat sears on the grill. Leave them that way for another three to four minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. Just don’t overcook those beauties! If you’ve nailed it, you’ll find that with a fork, you can extract the entire half tail with ease. Good thing you already poured that generous glass of Chardonnay because the richness, roundness, and buttery or oaky qualities of your Chardonnay will create fireworks in your mouth.
Hot Dogs and Riesling
The move here is to layer ketchup, mustard, and relish onto your hot dog of choice. Now, you’re ready for the wine. With its mouthwatering acidity and tart orchard or stone fruit flavors, a Riesling will slice through the richness of this decadent hot dog and wipe a clean slate. You’ll be shocked at how great it is with the relish. Sure, go ahead, try it: a spoonful of relish, a sip of Riesling. Now, back to the hot dog, and notice how that touch of residual sweetness in the Riesling also brings out nuances to the ketchup you never noticed before. Even the hot dog itself is benefiting—a little char from the grill, and a fresh burst of clean fruit flavors with tart acidity brings everything into balance. Never mind that the kids have already trekked a lot of dirt into the tents… life is good right now with your Riesling and hot dog.
Burgers and Merlot
No matter the burger, no matter the preparation, although Cabernet Sauvignon might be your first choice for this pairing, skip it. Head straight for Merlot. The best examples are going to blend fleshy, plummy and black-fruit flavors with heady spices, herbs, and a touch of cacao powder, and the wines’ softness and roundness and gentle acidity make it the best gulp-able companion to mouthwatering grilled burgers. See for yourself.
Smores and Dessert Wines
It can’t be done, you say? S’Mores are just for the kids? Oh, come on! You can take down two S’Mores while your child (or children) are still working on one. And for that, you need something to match the graham cracker crust, melty chocolate, and gooey marshmallow. This calls for a dessert wine! Perhaps the Ferrari-Carano Baci Dessert wine that is comprised of 100% Zinfandel. This decadent sweet red offers a chocolate explosion of rich, lush flavors, full-throttle dark-berry fruit, jam, and ganache, and tinges of cinnamon, which will send those bits of graham cracker crust into a graham cracker fuelled lift-off into the stratosphere of satisfaction. Even a port will do nicely. Even a Sauternes. Even…a Moscato. You really cannot go wrong here. But best to match sweet with sweet on this one.
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