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Hoffmaster Woodworks folding wine table with wine

Maura Friedman

The Hoffmaster Woodworks folding wine table is perfect for picnics for two


How to live your best outdoor wine life, the Southern Kitchen way

We've said it before, and we're likely to keep saying it until well after Labor Day: Outdoor daytime drinking season is firmly here. But before you go off and mutter about our improper emphasis on debaucherous summer behavior, keep in mind that we're not all about downing mint juleps and Chatham artillery punch before noon. No, we generally like to keep things on the tamer side, with sessionable beers and low-ABV Palmers.

And there's no reason why we shouldn't throw some wine in the mix, too. After all, we're still loving our frosé here in the test kitchen, and we'd never consider ourselves to be the type to say no to a glass of sangria. But there's ways to do summer wine right, and there's ways to do it wrong. Here's how we're living our best outdoor wine life.

Mimosas first
Champagne and orange juice is a time-honored brunchtime combo for a reason — it's not so strong that it'll keep you from getting done what needs to be done come 1 p.m., but it's also bright, fizzy and pairs well with plenty of different foods. If you're making drinks for an outdoor brunch, pull out your cheaper flutes or hard-to-spill stemless glasses — keep those coupes and Ridel glasses locked away for when you're not hanging out on a concrete patio or third-story deck.
Cranberry Spritz
Vesper Mimosa

White wine sangria
I've always kind of felt like sangria — the red wine kind — is basically just a cold version of mulled wine, appropriate for December and January, but silly for summertime. But really, all you need to do is to swap out that bold, spicy tempranillo for a lighter, spritzier cava and your sangria is porch-ready. You can serve this drink all afternoon and evening long, and channel long beach afternoons from your backyard in Nashville.

When we make our big-batch white sangria at Southern Kitchen, we like to use medium-bodied whites like pinot grigios or albarinos, and bring sweetness with fresh seasonal fruit and honey. It's right at home in an oversized enameled pitcher with matching glasses, but you can also serve a bigger party out of a punch bowl. Just keep your best crystal tucked away from any rambunctious kiddos. If you're really worried about breakability, or you want to drink your sangria poolside, we recommend an insulated wine bottle.
White Peach Sangria

Table for two
If you're planning an evening picnic date and you're not worried about keeping your wine cold — light reds are just fine for summer — you've got a little more flexibility. Two adults can drink from glass without breaking, right? The key is to add in a portable table that holds your wine glasses and wine bottle securely. Our friends at Hoffmaster Woodworks craft a really handy (and beautiful) version that will stake securely into the ground and even has a little extra space for holding napkins or a towel. Add in some (relatively) sturdy wineglasses and you're ready to enjoy your favorite pinot in the great outdoors.
Picnic tips from Virginia Willis

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.