Planning the perfect picnic is an art in itself, and choosing the right food and drinks can make it an absolute blast. Hosting hundreds of park picnics, rooftop barbecues and spontaneous outdoor get-togethers, I thought I’d share my guide to hosting the perfect summer picnic.
Things to Consider When Planning a Picnic Party
Planning the perfect picnic is like orchestrating a symphony of flavors, laughter, and sunshine. It’s an art that combines a variety of elements to create an unforgettable experience. So, before you spread that checkered blanket on the grass and bask in the open air, let’s dive into the essentials of crafting a flawless picnic outing.
First and foremost, choosing the right location sets the stage for your picnic masterpiece. Whether it’s a tranquil park, a scenic beach, or a hidden forest glade, your choice should reflect the mood you want to create. The location can be an oasis of calm or a vibrant gathering spot; it’s all up to you.
Next up, your guest list. Picnics are meant for sharing, so invite a diverse group of friends who will bring their unique energy to the mix. Friends from all walks of life, a mix of old and new, are the ingredients for a memorable gathering.
Now, timing is everything. Consider the time of day and season. A sunny afternoon might call for light, refreshing fare, while a twilight picnic could be a cozy affair with heartier dishes. But there should always be wine!
The weather plays a significant role, too. Keep an eye on weather forecasts to ensure your picnic doesn’t get rained out. A backup plan or some trusty umbrellas can save the day.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the key to a perfect picnic: the food and drinks. This is where your personal taste and creativity shine. Will you craft an elaborate menu, or will you ask guests to contribute their favorite bites? It’s all part of the picnic magic.
With these considerations in mind, you’re ready to embark on a picnic adventure that combines nature, friendship, and delicious treats, creating a symphony of joy that might be fleeting, but hopefully unforgettable.
The Perfect Picnic Foods: 8 Best Wines & Bites
1. Sparkling Wines to Get the Picnic Party Started
What’s a picnic without a little bubbly? My go-to is sparkling wine, and I’ve found that Zonin Prosecco offers some fantastic options. Popping that cork sets the mood for a fabulous picnic with friends, complete with clinking glasses and laughter.
2. Summer Wines to Stay Hydrated and Buzzed
When the sun’s beating down, it’s essential to stay refreshed. Castello del Poggio‘s Italian summer wines are the answer. They’re crisp, fruity, and perfect for sipping while soaking up those rays.
3. Fresh Fruit for Fun
Nothing says summer like fresh fruit. Grapes are my top pick for their convenience and juicy sweetness. They’re like little bursts of sunshine in your mouth.
4. Cheese. Always Cheese.
Cheese is a picnic classic, and Cowgirl Creamery has been my recent favorite. Their artisanal cheeses elevate the whole experience. Pair them with crackers or some fresh bread for a divine combination.
If you want to go over the top with your picnic presentation, you can always put together an entire charcuterie board of meats, cheeses, olives, fruit, and jams. I did that a lot during the pandemic, but if you’ve got a smaller budget for your picnic, just stick with the cheese—always a crowd pleaser!
5. Pasta Salad to Snack On
My mom’s pasta salad is a must for all of my personal picnics! Her recipe is simple yet divine—tricolor rotini, zesty Italian salad dressing, parmesan cheese, tomato, red onion, and yellow pepper. But the joy of pasta salad for a picnic is you can use almost any combination of veggies or sides to make one.
6. Potato Chips for a Bit of Crunch
You can’t forget the crunch! Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream chips are my guilty pleasure. They’re the perfect savory snack to balance out all the sweetness. Bring along a french onion dip to go with the potato chips for a bit of extra savory snack.
7. Pickles Are Always a Perfect Picnic Partner
Try saying that one fast! Pickles add a zesty twist to your picnic spread. McClure’s Pickles are my top choice for their bold flavors and crisp texture. They’re a tangy treat that everyone can enjoy.
8. Something Sweet to End On
To end on a sweet note, Trader Joe’s brownies are unbeatable. Fudgy, chocolatey, and oh-so-decadent, they’re a dessert lover’s dream. Perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth after a delicious picnic meal. And you can usually grab them quickly from a Trader Joe’s on the way to the picnic.
For birthday picnics (if you’re lucky enough to have a summer birthday), surprise your guests with a birthday cake. Milk Bar is one of NYC’s most popular birthday cakes, though I’m personally more partial to Martha’s Country Bakery (that’s where I always get my birthday cake).
With these food and drink options, your picnic will be an unforgettable experience filled with laughter, good company, and incredible flavors. Cheers to the perfect picnic!