If food tastes better outside, then camping in B.C.’s wilderness must make for some damn tasty dinners. If you’re planning on spending time in a tent this summer and you happen to love wine, however, you might be wondering how to go about selecting stuff to consume by the campfire. Take my word for it: even excellent vintages suffer when sipped out of a plastic cup or enamelware glass.
And unless you’re a camping gourmet like the Straight’s Mike Usinger, who goes to great lengths to source dry ice to keep perishables perfectly cold in the cooler, chances are you won’t be serving wine of any colour at the ideal temperature.
What are wine lovers to do when it comes to camping in good taste? We canvassed a couple of local experts for ideas.
Gene and Shelly Covert, the formidable duo behind Covert Farms Family Estate, an organic farm and winery in Oliver, recommend packing a small KeepCup. One of several reusable drinking vessels produced by a leading Australia B corp of the same name, the pair’s pick is made of blown tempered glass and cork. “It offers durability, but has a nice feel for drinking wine without the lid on,” Gene Covert tells the Straight. “The cork grip is also fitting.”
Shiva Reddy, executive wine director of Osteria Savio Volpe and Pepino’s Spaghetti House, suggests a visit to MEC. That’s where you can find the BPA-free GSI Glacier Stainless Nesting Red Wine Glass. “The stem screws onto the bowl, and when done you can unscrew and cover the bowl back up with no mess,” Reddy tells the Straight. “Do note they are a little weightier if you’re really going deep into the woods.” In other words, at 91 grams, this is a glass for car camping, not back-country exploring.
It’s hard to say what variety of wine is ideal to bring along for a weekend of 24/7 fresh air by a riverbank or in a dense forest. “A late afternoon refresher is definitely a rosé or dry white, while later on as the temperature drops a more full-bodied red is nice around the campfire,” Covert says.
When stocking up on supplies, do you go for something cheap and cheery or will you splurge? For the former, the smell of a campfire would immediately take Reddy to Barone di Valforte Pecorino Abruzzo, a fresh, structured white. If money were no object, she’d opt for Biondi-Santi Riserva Brunello di Montalcino 2006, an elegant Sangiovese that’s said to have hints of eucalyptus and, appropriately, wood smoke.
Canned wine is an altogether different way to go. The South Okanagan’s Castoro de Oro Estate Winery is a made-in-B.C. option; it recently released its own line of wine in the can, with Heart of Gold (white blend), Pinot Duetto Rosé, and Merlot.
Another canny pick is BABE Wine, founded by Instagram celebrity Josh “the Fat Jewish” Ostrovsky and partners. Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer, purchased the brand last year, and Labatt, A-B’s Canadian subsidiary, recently introduced it to Canada. BABE comes in three sparkling varietals: Pinot Grigio, red, and rosé. It makes for easy, unpretentious drinking.
“Me and the two other founders definitely enjoy wine, but we’re mediocre domestic beer guys at heart,” Ostrovsky told Forbes magazine. “So we thought, ‘Why can’t wine be cold, fun, inclusive and not annoying?’ So we decided to create the Bud Light of wine.”
When asked why canned wine was better than bottled, he said: “It fits in the cup holder of your Nissan Sentra UberX, you can shotgun it, do I even need more reasons?”
Another is that it’s a whole lot easier to fit in your cooler.