Susy Atkins: the best drinks to pack for an autumn picnic

wines for a picnic
Wrap up warmly, pack the pastry and don’t scrimp on the cider – this is how to do outdoor dining and drinking in autumn

Wines for picnics in any season must be crowd-pleasers. I’m referring not to a lot of people – your picnic plans might be romantically à deux – but to a crowded feast of diverse dishes.

Choose a medium-sweet cider to pour as you tuck into toffee apple cake

And that calls for wines that are versatile and easy-going; soft, not high in acidity, nor too sweet, nor raspingly dry.  They should certainly be affordable – only a proper bore makes a song and dance about fancy wine at a picnic.

And on the down-to-earth theme (literally,  if you’re going to sit on the ground), do plump for screw caps for ease of opening and closing. And so you don’t have to remember to pack  a corkscrew.

With the fuller-flavoured picnic dishes Diana Henry has conjured up for autumn, you’ll need wines with some ripeness.

So, for her soft and soothing artichoke and garlic soup, turn to the south of France for a dry white with a rounded, buttery texture. This might be a subtly oaked chardonnay Pays d’Oc or something more unusual (see below).

These same whites will match many other hot vegetarian soups, including squash.

For her marvellous sausage rolls, and for pork pies and classic pasties, too, head to Italy’s deep south for a red that taste of the hot sun, with cherry, spicy, pruney hints. Nero d’avola and primitivo are two grapes that deliver here.

The alternative? Cider, often so brilliant with sausages. Choose a medium-sweet style and you can pour it as you tuck into Diana’s toffee apple cake, too.

Try these

Saint Mont 2014, France Marks & Spencer, £8.50

A clever go-to white for richer veggie dishes in cooler weather, this has a blend of mainly gros manseng that is fresh and limey, but with a rounded, satisfying finish. And it’s a screw cap.

Corolla Nero d’Avola 2013, Sicily, Italy Majestic, £7.99

Lively, red-berryish Italian red with a ripe core and twist of black pepper. Drink with any picnic-y pork dishes. This one’s also  a screw cap, so it’s perfect for alfresco dining.

Orchard Pig Charmer, Somerset Waitrose, £1.99 for 500ml

This medium, sparkling cider has a laid-back, mellow taste, with a sweet, juicy natural apple flavour that works with a wide range of dishes. Bring a cap opener for this one.