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The Wine Enthusiast’s Guide to Camping

Bedrock Rose

Our annual camping trip with my wife’s sisters and their families took us to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, just about two hours north of Seattle. Six adults, six kids, one dog and 48 hours in the pristine Pacific NW.

The trip is not about wine, but it definitely plays a part. Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons, honing my approach to wine enjoyment while camping.

Here are my 2012 post-camping suggestions on incorporating wine into your next adventure:

  1. Screw tops are ideal. It is damn near impossible to keep track of a corkscrew among the grill utensils, tent hardware and bins of camping gear. I like Carlisle Sonoma County Zinfandel and Bedrock Rose. Sparkling wines also don’t require a corkscrew.
  2. Stemware is a bad idea. If a glass does not fit snugly in the cup holder of a beach chair, or you fear knocking it over when it gets dark out, then it’s not going to work. GoVino or Riedel O are good options. My wife also likes Italian wine tumblers with a heavy base.
  3. Visit a local wine shop. Compass Wines in Anacortes is a 20-minute drive from our campground, so it was an easy late-afternoon trip. I had the good fortune of stopping by while they were pouring the sparkling wines of Treveri Cellars. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Don’t over-think your selections. White and cold is a good rule of thumb: We enjoyed a local white table wine, some vinho verdi, a bottle of the Treveri Cellars brut and the Bedrock rose. Along these lines, don’t dwell on food and wine pairings. Zinfandel and Syrah will pair well with just about anything you put on the grill.
  5. This is not the time to be a wine snob. If you’re going to worry about a particular bottle getting too warm while stored in your car or tent, don’t bring it. If you’re concerned about perfect labels, understand that your wine is likely to spend time in an ice-filled cooler and is going to get wet. You’ll need to get over it.

Finally, a Champagne and s’mores pairing is a home run. Trust me.

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  1. Mike (@mbb71) #

    Great advice, Tom. We are well outside camping season here in Texas until Fall, but I’ve got quite a bit of experience incorporating wine into camping. For glasses, I use a set of four stemless glasses that cost $8.99 at my local Kroger. No comparison to crystal due to the thickness of the glass but they are preferable to drinking out of a plastic cup (which I have done, and don’t frown on if that’s your only option), and they otherwise fit all your requirements — e.g., not easily breakable, and if they do break they were so cheap I don’t care. I also agree about screwcaps when available. I think you’re right about just not worrying about labels, I always put my bottles inside the cooler in a plastic, kitchen garbage bag, which does the job well.

    On our last “no moms allowed” campout (this is a bit of a joke because most of the moms are happy for a kid-free weekend and some are not campers at all) of the season, which included 4 dads and 12 kids, the dads blew it out on wine with steaks after the kids had all sacked out. 04 Catena Alta Cab, 01 Lewis Cab, and 09 Catena Malbec. Malbec is also a great choice for grilled fare on campouts.

    July 12, 2012

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