The Perfect Picnic Basket For Wine Tasting

I love those sunny weekend days where you gather your friends, pack a picnic and head to a winery. Especially in the summer months where there's live music and endless warm evenings. Here are my picnic basket essentials that you must pack on your next outing.   Cheese: A visit to your local cheese shop is ideal for packing a picnic. I prefer to choose 3 to make it less overwhelming; a soft creamy cheese, a hard salty cheese and something weird and interesting. Ask the cheese monger for recommendations that will pair well with different wines. Charcuterie: Following the same rules as I do with cheese, I usually opt for 3 different choices. I'm partial to prosciutto and spicy salami like calabrese so those are always a staple. For a third I'll go with a paté or ask for a recommendation. Olives: Casteveltrano are my absolute favorite. Bright green in color and they taste amazing. You can usually find them at any olive bar in Whole Foods or your local cheese and charcuterie shop. Kalmata are always a winner as well. Fresh Fruit: Go with fresh, local berries from the farmers market. At the peak of their sweetness, they'll go perfectly with the cheese and bring out the fruitiness of the wines. Marcona Almonds: This buttery, salty snack goes great with white wines. My favorite are the ones tossed with rosemary and sea salt from Trader Joes. Honey: Perfect on the cheese, on the almonds, on the fruit. YUM. Cornichon Pickles: These are a great addition to any cheese board. The salty bitterness will balance out the sweet and they pair wonderfully with the charcuterie. Bread/Crackers: Bring a mixture of both. I like to pre-slice a baguette, bring some type of rice crackers and pita chips. It's a great variety for everyone! Wine Wipes: This is a must have in your picnic basket. After a day of enjoying red wine, you have to wipe away the wine teeth!   Don't forget utensils and a board to assemble this on. Pack it all up, head to the winery and enjoy your day!   Cheers!