Great Wines to Pack in Your Picnic Basket

Adam Arlen

, Happy Hour

With reservations tight at most restaurants, and many people choosing to dine outside, picnics are becoming more popular. Pack your basket with wines from Beaujolais and Mendoza, Argentina. These regions provide a great quality-to-price ratio and will go perfectly with anything in the basket.


Not your 1970s Beaujolais

While Beaujolais is technically part of Burgundy, it associates more with Rhone in style. Bright and fresh, these wines shine in your glass with a slight chill. These are not the Beaujolais Nouveau made popular in the 60s and 70s by Georges Debeouff. They are more serious and layered than the fruity, one dimensional nouveau style. Showing bright juicy red fruit, Beaujolais is perfect for that hot summer day in the park. The easiest way to describe Gamay in Beaujolais is to say Pinot Noir and Syrah had a child together.


World class Malbec and others

Mendoza, Argentina is known for world class Malbec. It also grows several other grapes like Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Bonarda. Bonarda hails from the Savoy region in France, but has found a foothold in Mendoza, and is known as Charbono in California. It is the second most widely planted grape in Argentina, making it a great option to branch out from Malbec. Showing ripe red and black fruits and rarely getting above 14% alcohol by volume, Bonarda is a versatile wine for dinner on the blanket.


My picks

2018 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes, Côte de Brouilly Cuvée de Ambassades

This is a very old school Beaujolais in the best sense: beautiful garnet color, beguiling aromatics, and a burst of refreshment in the mouth — and that burst is a savory, mineral, toothsome thing because of the domain’s high elevations and because of Mont Brouilly’s blue granite. Some crus emphasize soil notes, others give fruit, but only good Côte de Brouilly gives stone in the flavor. Pick it up for around $25-30.



2016 El Enemigo Bonarda, Mendoza

This Bonarda shows a deep violet color with bluish reflections. The nose is intense and complex. Intense aromas of ripe black fruit, blackberries, raspberries, black cherries, chocolate and liquor, with some spicy notes of fresh herbs provided by the Cabernet Franc appear. Pick it up for $25-30.




Banner and feature images courtesy



Adam Arlen, Sommelier


Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”





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