Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Ode to Picnic Wines and a Note About Raccoons




Sometimes you go on a picnic and it is as relaxing as walking through redwood forrest with a mojito in hand, and other times, wild animals attack. The later was reflective of the latest picnic I went on. But I still liked it. We still got to drink wine.

My mother, my Aunt Lin who was in town for the day, and we together went up to Tilden Park in Berkeley to enjoy a beautiful picnic spray in the lush green nature reserve. We spread our goods on the table, sliced some Fatted Calf Toscano salami, poured some wine into our plastic cups, and then we had a visitor. A crazy visitor.

Our little friend was a raccoon that could no longer hunt. He was a sad little raccoon, and demanded that we feed him. Instead of running away like another wild, friendly raccoon did when the women of the family (excepting myself, who stood with her mouth open and salami slice in hand) waved things at him and made a lot of noise, he came full force at our table, limping with a recently shortened tail. And then he came closer. Then he charged at my mother. That was when we submitted and threw him a third of our baguette. We aren't normally the family to feed wild beings, especially when there are signs around warning us of the danger, but after we relocated and he followed us with the same crazy look in its eyes, we realized that if we wanted to finish our picnic, were left with little choice. Later the raccoon was joined by a feral cat and a healthy raccoon, who also watched us. We did not feed them. We were able to enjoy our picnic regardless of the uninvited visitors, but I admittedly was frightened by how many times that he walk/limped aggressively towards my mother. Especially because two weeks ago, she was bit by a poisonous spider and had to be hooked up to a IV. I thought it would be such a shame if she had to return to the hospital night due to a raccoon attack. The hospital workers might have questioned the way she spent her leisure time.

Anyhow. It's picnic time.

Once again the season is upon us that requires the filling of straw baskets with luscious meats, cheeses, fresh salads, pie, leftover Girl Scout cookies that magically appeared in our cupboards, and at least two to five bottles of good wine. Those of you who treasure the good life or just enjoy the opportunity to wear your Hawaiian print culottes in public, get ready; it’s picnic season. Pack an extra baguette

Although picnics are somewhat casual events when compared to weddings or baptisms, there is no excuse to get lazy. Like the aforementioned events, picnics have rules too. They are:

Picnic Standards
1. Bring plenty of cheese, charcuterie and bread.
2. Pack plenty of wines that go with cheese, charcuterie and bread.
3. If you’re going to wear your culottes, call other event attendees to coordinate Hawaiian prints, and don’t wear socks unless they are exactly the same print as your partner’s.

An Exploration of Picnic Wines

Good picnic wines are not hard to come by. Essentially, not even wine that overwhelms the lighthearted picnic food will get in the way of you enjoying your day, because you are on a picnic! If you are, however, one of those people like me who like your wine to match your food even when drinking out of plastic cups, there are a couple wines that will match nearly any picnic food that you bring.

Two wines in particular that stand out as super picnic wines, and not just because they earned gold in the Picnic Olympics, are the 05 Stepahn Tissot Poulsard San Soufre, from Arbois, and the 07 Chateau Mourgues du Gres “Les Galets Dores,” a Grenache Blanc and Rousillion Rhône blend from Nîmes.

The Tissot Poulssard comes from Arbois, the charming French town that produces such classics as Morbier, Gruyere and Comté cheeses. It’s a round, raspberry, strawberry, earthy little wine with bright acidity that’s gentle to cheeses and cuts the fat in charcuterie. Some cheeses in particular I’d suggest with the Poulsard would be the Gruyere, Comté, fresh chevre, and Mt. Tam by Cowgirl Creamery.

Next is the Chateau Mourgues, a general picnic pleaser. This pretty, fresh wine will charm everyone from your wine snob cousin to your picky grandmother, pear, vanilla and white peach flavors pair wonderfully with grandma’s chicken salad and brilliantly with the expensive cheeses and French olives your sophisticated cousin brought.

Have a wonderful picnic and watch out for the contentious raccoons.

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1 comment:

Jack said...

Feral raccoons foraging for freebies and Stephane Tissot wines. What an interesting life you lead. Keep the stories coming!