Per­fect your out­door drink­ing game with tip­ples and tin­nies that are made for en­joy­ing al­fresco, writes

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Oct - MAX ALLEN.

The best beers, wines and bub­bles to en­joy out­doors.

One of the most im­por­tant things to re­mem­ber when drink­ing out­doors: don’t for­get the corkscrew. This sounds like out­moded ad­vice now that pretty much ev­ery wine is bot­tled un­der screw­cap (in it­self pos­si­bly the great­est sin­gle devel­op­ment in the his­tory of out­doors drink­ing), but there’s a cou­ple of rea­sons why it’s still a good idea to pop a waiter’s friend into your pocket as you head out.

Yes, most Aus­tralian wines are now un­der screw cap – but most Euro­pean wines are still un­der cork. What’s more, nat­u­ral wine­mak­ers, both Aus­tralian and Euro­pean, tend to favour cork over screw. And you’ll want to be drink­ing nat­u­ral wines be­cause they taste par­tic­u­larly good with fresh air.

Also, sparkling wines – es­pe­cially the pét-nats beloved of the nat­u­ral crowd – are of­ten stop­pered with a crown seal rather than a cork these days, so you’ll need the bot­tle-open­ing bit of your waiter’s friend to pry them open (and watch them gush ev­ery­where be­cause they’ve been shaken up when you walked from the car to the beach­side lunch spot).

When it comes to choos­ing out­doors wines, you could up­hold the age-old Aussie sum­mer cus­tom of drink­ing luke­warm full-bod­ied shi­raz with your char-grilled snags if you re­ally wanted to. Knock your­self out. But let me tempt you with some other vi­nous op­tions that I think taste par­tic­u­larly good drunk out­side on a sunny day.

Su­per-zesty young dry white wines – ries­ling, semil­lon, sauvi­gnon blanc, etc – work re­ally well, as long as they’re kept re­ally cold. I’m re­ally en­joy­ing a lot of chenin blanc at the mo­ment for this very rea­son. Ditto for pale, dry rosé and skin-con­tact whites. Light, juicy reds such as gamay, caber­net franc and dol­cetto also work bet­ter out­doors – in my hum­ble opin­ion – than their fuller-bod­ied cousins, be­cause they taste good chilled and can be kept in the ice bucket.

Ver­mouth’s great, too. Do what the Span­ish do and kick off your next al fresco event with a healthy slug of chilled red ver­mouth over plenty of ice with a green olive and a sliver of orange peel. Drain and re­peat. And you can’t go past a good Spritz, es­pe­cially if it comes in pre-mixed form a la Maidenii’s handy half-litre bot­tles.

One of the best things to hap­pen to craft beer in the last few years is the fact that so many brew­ers now put their New Eng­land IPAs and rasp­berry sour ales and oys­ter stouts in cans. In­deed, some like the bril­liant Sailors Grave Brew­ing in Gipp­s­land, only use cans. The ben­e­fits to the out­door drinker are ob­vi­ous: cans chill down quicker than bot­tles (handy if you’re very thirsty); they’re lighter (handy for when you’re car­ry­ing your pic­nic a long way through the bush); and they don’t smash when you drop them on the rocks (handy for when your pic­nic spot is at the edge of a wa­ter­hole).

Beer isn’t the only thing that comes in cans, now, of course. You can also find very good tra­di­tional cider (thank you Wil­lie Smith’s in Tas­ma­nia) and even de­li­cious wine in tin­nies (thank you Inkwell Wines and Sparkke, both in South Aus­tralia).

Talk­ing of al­ter­na­tive pack­ag­ing… you may have no­ticed the glo­ri­ously retro re­turn of the flagon and cask in re­cent years. This isn’t cheap plonk to be sculled by der­ros on some park bench at mid­night, though. Oh no. The pretty, fruity Yarra Val­ley rosé that Stu­art Proud sells in two-litre flagons un­der his Proud Pri­mary Pro­duce la­bel, and the juicy Piemon­tese bar­bera that Gior­gio de Maria im­ports in three-litre

bag-in-boxes are both se­ri­ously good wines. Yes, they may add some ex­tra bulk to your pic­nic bas­ket but they’re heaps of fun – and they cer­tainly look the part as you’re sit­ting on a park bench with your hip­ster mates at mid­night.

And look, it’s won­der­ful that we’re all try­ing so hard to re­duce the amount of plas­tic in our lives, it re­ally is. Yay us. But when it comes to drink­ing out­side, plas­tic is your friend (see the afore­men­tioned “smash­ing on rocks”). Gone are the days when plas­tic wine­glasses were all su­per chunky and coloured blue or orange. Now you can find very good ones, both stemmed and stem­less, from top man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Plumm, that al­most look and feel like the real thing. I’d rec­om­mend the stem­less ver­sions – they’re great for ev­ery­thing from wa­ter to red wine to Spritzes, and the smaller ones can even be slipped into old footy-club stubby hold­ers for ex­tra in­su­la­tion. A good ex­am­ple of up­cy­cling if ever there was one.

If your out­doorsy drink­ing ad­ven­ture is a lit­tle more off-track than a back­yard bar­bie or pic­nic in the park, you might want to in­vest in one of the splen­did vac­uum-sealed stain­less-steel drinks con­tain­ers from US man­u­fac­turer, Stan­ley. The 1.9-litre growler, for ex­am­ple, fits al­most a whole flagon of rosé, and will keep it cold for 24 hours. Stan­ley also sell an all-in-one stain­less steel “happy hour” kit in­clud­ing shaker, strainer, citrus juicer, jig­ger and rocks glasses. Who says cock­tails are just for in­doors af­ter dark?

You’ll want to be drink­ing nat­u­ral wines be­cause they taste par­tic­u­larly good with fresh air.

Clock­wise: Gior­gio de Maria Carussin Bag & Box, Proud Pri­mary Pro­duce Up the Moun­tain Rosé, Maidenii Spritz, Sailors Grave Brew­ing Sou’ East Draught and Spritz Inkwell Wines Dub Style Preser­va­tive Free Bub­bly.

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