Best wine for a Labor Day picnic? White and light

Posted: August 29, 2014

 B  UZZ: Hey, Marnie, I'm glad I ran into you. We have our family reunion barbecue every Labor Day in Fairmount Park, and this year I'm supposed to bring the wine. Any suggestions?

Marnie: Sure thing, Buzz. I recommend sticking to chilled, lightweight wines when the occasion involves drinking in broad daylight. This goes double for warm weather, so steer away from the heavier reds. Think white or pink, and bring a cooler.

Buzz: Oh, I never leave home without a cooler.

Marnie: Also, with that kind of mixed crowd, it's a good idea to provide an option that's not just lightweight but also lightly sweet rather than dry. This is particularly true when you have all age groups in attendance, from college students to senior citizens.

Buzz: Wait, why would their age matter?

Marnie: It's not age that makes a difference as much as the demographic. The oldest and youngest adults are least likely to be regular wine drinkers and often have not acquired a taste for dry wine.

Folks who rarely drink wine tend to gravitate to wines that taste more like juice and less like hard liquor. Low-alcohol wines that aren't fully dry are typically a hit with this crowd.

Look for styles with less than 12 percent alcohol and you'll almost always find some degree of palpable sweetness. Think moscato and prosecco, Riesling and rose.

Buzz: But aren't drier wines always better?

Marnie: That's a myth perpetuated by wine snobs. People often assume that dryness is a quality factor because most fine wines are dry and most cheap wines have noticeable sweetness, but there is no causal connection. There are luxurious, expensive wines that feature a touch of sweetness, like classy French Vouvrays, as well as dire bargain-basement wines that are completely dry.

Buzz: I wish my basement were completely dry.

Marnie: Newcomers to wine prefer a little obvious sweetness on first sip and are rarely prepared to spend much for a bottle of wine, so the most affordable "entry-level" wines are likely to be made with noticeable sugar content.

As their wine experience grows, folks often discover how terrific drier wines can taste with food and shift to drier styles at the same time that they start exploring premium categories. A hint of sweetness happens to be ideal for picnics and barbecues pairing-wise, so you can benefit on both sides.

Buzz: So a nice Vouvray to complement my famous burnt hotdog, sweet relish and mustard on a potato roll. Thanks, Marnie!


Marnie Old is a local sommelier and

wine author. Buzz's musings are interpreted by DailyNews Assistant Managing Editor Gar Joseph.

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