One of the roles for GrapeSelections is to provide tips in any realm, as long as it somehow involves wine. Since the summer is so beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities to go camping, writing about camping and wine seems just right, though could have been posted a bit sooner. When someone says ‘camping’, things that pop into mind are sunsets/nature, campfire, swimming, bugs and of course – beer and wine. For most, beer may be the drink of choice, but I hope that by the end of this short read, I will have you convinced that wine is a camping necessity.
For me, there are two different types of camping; car camping and back country camping. Car camping is where you drive onto your campsite, park your car, open a beer, setup your tent, pull out your cooler and start making food on your portable BBQ or the fire you just started. It is where you bring anything and everything that fits into your car to make your stay more convenient. It is where you manage to bring even your family/friends that don’t like the outdoors, and the only way you got them to go is because you told them that if they don’t like it, they can just drive back home or stay in the nearby B&B. This is the type of camping where, despite being in pristine nature, you make your campsite your new home.
On the other hand, backcountry camping is where you pack ONLY the things that you really need and compromise on comfort in the name of adventure. It’s the type of camping where you go only with people that you know will not only handle it, but appreciate it and cherish it. Backcountry camping can be done on foot – you hike from the point of origin to the final destination solely dependent on yourself and your team; or by canoe/kayak – you load up your craft and paddle wherever accessible water allows you to and portage into adjacent body of water by the shortest piece of land as possible. Whichever one is your choice, you go through all this trouble for pristine nature, peace and quiet and for time of reflection and tranquility. Myself, I prefer backcountry canoe camping versus hiking, as it allows me to bring more ‘luxury’ things.
Wine and car camping
In is the type of camping, you can bring anything you like to drink, but beware, not all things are equal. Here is a scenario: so you got ready, packed the crystal glasses and the decanter, placed that special bottle of white/sparking into the cooler to stay chilled and you thought you were set. Though you arrive all anxious to crack it open and watch the sunset, you realise that you forgot the corkscrew, but it’s OK, your neighbour had one on hand or the bottle had a screw cap/popping cork. You take the bottle out of the cooler and find out that it froze, because you surrounded it with too many icepacks you got from your freezer. Not to worry, this is also ok, because after driving for 4-5 hours through hectic traffic, you can wait for it to thaw.
TIPS: You may be wondering, what wine should I bring? For whites, bring something sweeter (off dry) that has a nice acidity to cut though your fat sausage/burger. For sparkling, bring something cheap as you won’t give it the attention fine bubbly needs, and expect to drink it only for a toast, as too much of it will make you regret it the next day. For reds bring some good wines (but not your top choices) and bring some 1.5L table wines that have are fruit forward. Open them at the same time and though you will enjoy the table wine together with your companions (the ones that switch from beer to wine and vice versa) along with your juicy burger; you can swap to the finer wine at anytime to watch the sunset or the campfire. Before the night is out, you’ll go and open more bottles of your choice, so bring some extra of your ‘grape selections’, knowing that you’ll take some back home. Word of advice, drink a glass of water after each glass of wine, you’ll thank me for this tip the next morning.
Check list: Nice selections of wines – ¾ sippers, ¼ easy drinkers; corkscrew, short glasses, decanter, and cooler with ice and water mixture (keeps wine at 4°C) – consider when you want to drink sparkling or white.
Wine and backcountry camping
When packing for a three or more day trip, you are faced with a dilemma; “this is what I need (which already is too much), so how can I bring wine?” Before I tell you how, I must emphasize that for me, the only thing more important than having an absolutely amazing glass of wine, is to have a fire (and food, and tent…). Whether you are watching the sunset, the stars, the rising moon or the fire (or let’s face it, you are stuck in your tent because it’s pouring rain), a glass of fine wine brings the experience just a notch higher. For me, the choice is red wine, but not just any red, it has to be the finest red that I have in my cellar, that I am familiar with and that I still have at least several bottles of. Whatever your choice is, bring your best pick, for this is a special occasion and the wine, just like the surrounding nature, will get all the attention it needs, as it is not meant to be drunk, but to be savoured.
TIPS: think to bring half to full bottle per night (or what you can carry), at home decant it into a wine pouch specifically designed to transport wine (Wine Preservation System sold at MEC that does a great job). With this contraption, you eliminate the weight of the bottle (~0.5 Kg), the need to bring corkscrew and you ensure that the wine is of top quality (not corked). For myself, I bring a small, but real crystal wine glass – yes, overkill, but that is me.