By Kara Sweet
Summer is almost officially here. Not just the day of the year when the solstice begins, but the season when the weather actually denotes it is time to be in the sun…to be in the outdoors, to be in the beautiful Black Hills which we all love!
It is the favorite time of the year for many, myself included.
I love to spend time in nature all day, and then come back to a comfy home with plumbing and electricity at night—no camping for this girl. Because of my aversion to camping, I have fine-tuned many ways to enjoy my favorite beverage in Mother Nature during the daylight hours.
Yes, it is time to enjoy wine outside for the next four gorgeous months. Here is how.
Wine and the Outdoors Tip One: Invest in a Wine Carrier
There are multiple ways to carry wine outside. The industry has expanded beyond the glass bottle. Some wineries are using light-weight containers for many reasons. Plastic wine bottles, wine bags, wine cans, single-serving portions, and wine boxes all weigh less and take up less space for hiking, biking, swimming, camping, or boating. However, if outdoorspeople go with one of these options, like Copa Divino or Bota Box, they are at the mercy of the varietal, type, and style of wines those producers make.
For those who want more flexibility in their wine than just having to drink what is already put in light-weight containers, the answer is the Platypus brand PlatyPreserve. This is a great weapon in an outdoor arsenal. Just pull the wine of choice, pour it into the PlatyPreseve, put it in a backpack, and head to the hills! It holds exactly one 750 ml (milliliter) bottle of wine; plus, it is light weight and easy to carry.
Wine and the Outdoors Tip Two: Invest in Portable Wine Glasses
Just like there are different ways for carrying wine outside, there are several options for drinking wine outside. Again, some producers like Copa and Bota Box create individual servings of wine, making no glass needed. However, the same negative issue occurs—the wines from which to choose are limited.
Thankfully, light weight and unbreakable “glasses” have come a long way. GSI Outdoors produces nesting glasses where the stem unscrews from the bowl of the glass and then snaps inside the bowl for traveling. GSI also makes stemless glasses out of strong plastic and both stemmed and stemless glasses out of stainless steel. The GoVino stemless glasses come in white, red, and sparkling styles and are made with appropriate bowl sizes and shapes for each style. The plastic is thin yet durable, mimicking the thinness of crystal stemware and making the wine taste and smell the closest to an actual glass. The newest outdoor drinkware option is the wine tumbler (made by numerous companies). This drinkware has a wine-glass shape inside the tumbler with a sippy, travel-mug style lid.
Wine and the Outdoors Tip Three: Keep Food Simple
Let nature and the wine do most of the work to create an elaborate experience for a day outside. The food needs to be simple and easy to carry. Fresh-cut fruit, chilled veggies, aged cheeses, and flavored crackers are enough to nibble on while sitting in a picturesque setting. If a more elaborate meal is the goal, make sandwiches on focaccia bread with garlic-basil aioli, roast turkey or beef, tomato, and fresh mozzarella. Dessert can be as simple as homemade cookies, ‘smores bars, or chocolate chunks. These simple yet flavorful items are not only easy to prepare, but, more importantly, they are easy and lightweight to pack, making them the perfect outdoor cuisine.
Wine and the Outdoors Tip Four: Keep Wine at Correct Temperature
If hiking on a warm day, chill red wines until they are quite cold, pour in the Platypus, and put in the pack. That way, the wine warms while hiking and is close to proper temperature when ready to sip. For white wines, chill until extremely cold before pouring in the Platypus, and then put a freezer pack around the outside of the PlatyPreserve during the hike so the wine stays cold. Yes, this is extra weight to carry, but it is very worth it for a chilled white wine.
Wine and the Outdoors Tip Five: Stay Organized
It is best to keep all of the hiking and outdoor supplies together so nothing is forgotten during an outdoor expedition. It really is a bummer to pack wine for miles and miles only to find there are no glasses for drinking. (Yes, this has happened to me before; yes, I found a way to overcome that obstacle!) Store outdoor glasses and wine carrier right in the backpack. Keep the pack stocked with a cheese knife and napkins all year. Have a freezer pack ready to grab. These steps make last-minute explorations easy.
Wine and the Outdoors Final Tip: Be Smart and Safe
Remember, wine is an alcoholic beverage. Just because it might be sipped while walking on a trail or tanning at a lake doesn’t mean it should be consumed in an irresponsible manner. One glass (4-6 ounces) an hour, whether hiking, swimming, or lounging, is the rate at which the body can metabolize liquor. Remember, no matter if getting in a boat or a car after the outdoor activity, have a designated driver. Summer is only as fun as people are safe. Hike, camp, boat, and explore responsibly.
Summer in the beautiful Black Hills is just around the corner. Though you won’t find me scurrying to go camping, I will be getting into nature as many times as possible during Mother Nature’s welcoming weather. Whether you prefer to hike a beautiful trail, bike through the hills, or camp on a lake, now is the time to enjoy the outdoors! Make wine a part of your nature experience—it is the perfect pairing with the outdoors.