As we embrace the beauty of a Virginia spring, nothing seems to celebrate the season more than a lazy day spent with an engaging companion, an engrossing book and an overflowing picnic basket. Lounging amid spring's awakening landscape, it's impossible not to stop and smell the roses -- or azaleas, in our case. Take advantage of this fleeting post-frost, pre-mosquito moment with an outdoor excursion for two.
Picnic Basket BasicsWith these gourmet-to-go options, you'll achieve maximum enjoyment with minimal effort the ultimate goal of an easy, breezy day in the park.
Elevate dining in the great outdoors with the following picnic paraphernalia: insulated giraffe-print picnic basket with complete dining set, Lane Sanson, $57; Built NY insulated two-bottle wine tote, Atlantic Embroidery Works, $34 (including embroidery); straw hat, Halcyon Vintage Clothing, $28; poetry book, Black Swan Books, $9.50; decorative napkins, $8, three-piece plastic container set with lids, $24, and 16-piece decorative flatware, $29, Woo-Hoo! The Party Market at Shops at 5807; Roberta Freymann reversible quilt, $130, Van der Wolks.
Off the Beaten TrackMaymont and Byrd Park provide beautiful settings for afternoon lazing, but when you're looking to escape the crowds, these lesser known but equally lovely picnic spots are worth a try.
Consider the GrapeLemonade and iced tea are fine picnic beverages, but with nothing but a free afternoon ahead of you, a bottle of wine might be the perfect accompaniment to your outdoor feast. Don't limit yourself to a chilled chardonnay grabbed from the local supermarket pair your drink with the gourmet goods in your basket and slowly savor your banquet on a blanket. The following are some of our favorite pairings:
With grilled foods, fried chicken and mild or soft cheeses
Try Las Rocas from Calatayud, Spain, $13 at The Strawberry Street Vineyard, a full-bodied and lush rosé with notes of raspberry and strawberry.
With grilled chicken sandwiches, crudités and prosciutto-wrapped melon
Try Orsolani Erbaluce Al Baccio, from the Piedmont region of Italy, $14 at River City Cellars. This dry white varietal has a mid-weight body, pearlike fruit notes and creamy textures.
With steak, ham biscuits or salami sandwiches
Try Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbieres from Southern France, $16 at River City Cellars, a hearty red wine with notes of black currant and herbs.
With vegetarian fare, light chicken and fish dishes, and desserts
Try Montelliana, a Prosecco from central Italy, $13 at Strawberry Street Vineyard. With notes of honeysuckle and green apple, this extra-dry sparkling wine has fine bubbles and a very slight sweetness. Sheri Doyle HS