Wines to take on a park picnic
Unless your wine is in a magnum or one of those gigantically heavy, show-off bottles, it is by definition portable, but is a glass bottle the best way to transport a drink you want to enjoy on the go? Well, obviously not – hence the popularity of cans and pouches, neither of which runs the risk of being smashed en route, for example. But there are other considerations: the price – smaller containers tend to be more expensive pro rata – and, more importantly, the contents themselves. Alternative forms of packaging may be convenient, but tend not to contain particularly interesting wines. For a start, since when did you see, say, assyrtiko or criollo (two of the most interesting recent additions to the Aldi range, incidentally – see today’s recommendations below) in a can?
The other argument for bottles is that most are now sealed with a screw-cap, which means you don’t have to remember to take a corkscrew with you. Admittedly, there is still some prejudice against screw-caps – a residual view that a wine can’t possibly be any good unless you get to it by pulling a cork out of the bottle – but that’s now becoming quite outdated in all except the most traditional wine-producing regions.
That said, there can be the odd problem with screw-caps, too. The lack of oxygen sometimes allows a rather eggy smell to build up in the bottle, but that dissipates quickly enough once it’s opened, and such wines by and large age better, remain fresher for longer and obviously don’t suffer from cork taint (though, to complicate matters 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA, the component that causes the musty smell of a corked wine, can occasionally be found on other surfaces). The cap can get stuck and won’t unscrew, which leaves you with the problem of how to open the bottle. And there is the bigger issue of their carbon footprint: cork is more sustainable than aluminium, although it’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of the research into its environmental impact has been carried out by Amorim, the world’s biggest cork processor.
If weight is an issue, there are always smaller bottles, or “minis”, which are generally 187ml, so just larger than the standard 175ml glass of wine you’d get in a pub. They also tend to be of a better quality than wine in cans or pouches, with miniature versions of established brands such as Trivento malbec and Beronia rioja priced at £2.30 and £2.99, respectively (at Waitrose). Is that good value? That’s up to you to decide.