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Vino al fresco

A recipe for drinking wine outside

by Seth Gross and Craig Heffley



Drinking wine no longer should be relegated exclusively to indoors in the evening. After all, it’s fruit juice — the produce of the vine, born in the wild — and drinking it outside gets us giddy in a way that drinking in a dining room simply cannot.


The ingredients for such an experience include an outdoor location such as a porch, deck, hiking trail, sporting event or amphitheater; a fun white rosé, red or sparkling variety that’s easy to drink but not too serious; plastic cups or glasses, a canteen, or a bota bag, which is designed to carry wine; a corkscrew if needed; and some friends, neighbors or new acquaintances to share in the fun.


Creating a retreat

First, purchase some delicious, reasonably priced wine — something friendly that won’t cause a stir if a little is spilled on the ground. Some choice wines for outside drinking include showy aromatic whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Godello, Arinto and Torrontes; crisp, dry rosés that are mouthwatering and often taste like fresh berries or watermelon; bold, flashy reds with lots of fruity spice but not much tannin, including Grenache, Zinfandel and Gamay; and sparkling wines in all of their forms, whether dry or lightly sweet.


Next, select your location, but make sure it’s legal to consume alcohol there. Back yards are an ideal introduction, while the front yard shows neighbors that you’ve seized the day. Tailgating is perfect as well, particularly because you can tuck a cooler in the trunk with the grill and meet lots of like-minded drinkers at a sporting event or live show. Parks and trails might require stealth if rangers are lurking, so a bota bag or canteen with cups are a good way to commune with nature. Stow the wine in a backpack with some salami, cheese and bread, and you’ll have a trip to remember. Just don’t get lost.


Fine crystal is not appropriate for outdoors, but a jelly jar or pint glass is perfect for that lightly chilled Beaujolais or Gamay. Acrylic glasses are even better, and much less fragile in case one gets banged with a bocce ball. Plastic cups won’t hurt the taste of wine, but they don’t exactly showcase any subtle character in the wine, either. Bota bags, while not too common in the area, are ideal; they were made for wine in the first place.


Become familiar with screw-top wine bottles and bag-in-box (BIB) varieties. No longer for cheap consumption, these containers are all about accessibility and avoid the chance of getting cork-tainted wine. Now arriving in the U.S. are artisan-quality wines for everyday drinking in the BIB format, which come in three-, five- and 10-liter capacities. Typically consumed by locals who live near wineries, these tasty table wines are far superior to what’s currently available at grocery stores and are not that much more expensive.


There you have it — a recipe that’s a joy to whip up and share with the ones you love, your neighbors, and even new friends made along the way. It’s as easy as walking outside with a glass of vino in your hand or as elaborate as a Provençal feast. 


Seth Gross and Craig Heffley are co-owners of Wine Authorities in Durham. To learn more, call (919) 489-2884 or visit


Recommended wines

Below are some wines ideal for the outdoors:


• Aromatic whites: Bidoli Sauvignon Blanc, $11; Romeira Arinto, $14; Don Rodolfo Torrontes, $12

• Dry rosés: Bouysse Rosé, $10; Pinchinat Côtes de Provence Rosé, $14; Tegernseerhof Zweigelt Rosé, $13

• Bold, fruity reds: Pegões Vinho Tinto, $11; KitFox Foxy Red, $13; Le Garrigon Cotes du Rhone, $11; Gasparets Corbieres, $10

• Sparkling, fizzy: Avinyo Vi d’Agulla, $13; Tripoz Cremant de Bourgogne, $20; Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon, $20