I feel white wine rather than red is more suited to picnicking (though I would make an exception for the infamous duck picnic). I have drunk some truly awful white wines at picnics and not minded a bit. For instance, there is a particularly undrinkable Souave from the Co-op (at £2.49 a bottle, or thereabouts) which has a lovely aftertaste of cheese, but I've knocked it back quite happily when I've been sat beside the lake with a picnic/BBQ. I've also knocked back rose Lambrini on afore-mentioned occasions, but the less said about that, the better. And white wine can be easily chilled by sticking the bottle in a lake.
Champagne always goes down a treat, but I suppose you need a reason for a bit of bubbly.
Beer and Lager
The drink of choice of most of my friends is lager, and I have no objection to it, as long as it's cool. However, I won't brew lager myself, as it seems somehow... not real beer. I'm thinking a nice pale ale would go down well at a picnic, especially something with a dash of honey in like Young's Waggledance. I'm not a great fan of bitter (despite the fact that I'm brewing some at the moment) and I don't think stout is really particularly picnicky (though I am tempted by Young's Double Chocolate Stout).
Cider and Perry
I don't know whether it's just being in the West Country, but everyone seems to be drinking cider at the moment. I never used to be a fan, but I'm coming around, and I'm planning a batch of scrumpy next. I think cider is just right for a picnic (although I may have been brainwashed by Magner's adverts) and perry even more so. I had a lovely perry the other night -- 7.9% though, which I hadn't realised at the time.
Cocktails, Spirits and Mixers
Pimm's is my summer alcoholic drink of choice, with a sprig of mint and some cucumber. Gin and tonic slips down nicely as well. At Henley we sat next to a woman who had her bottle of Gordon's and her Schweppes and was steadily getting drunker and drunker. I was tempted to join in, but that would have left us stranded at the station with me in no fit state to drive.
The problem with proper cocktails, is that unless you make them up in advance, you have to drag lots of bottles of spirits around with you. A pitcher of Sangria would be nice, though.
Other Alcoholic Drinks
Mead. I've never had mead, but I want to make some. A fairly dry mead strikes me as perfect picnic fare. Mmm.
Pineapple Cooler. I tried to make this once, but Delia fails to take into account that wild yeast are not the only things that like warm damp environments with a bit of sugar. Mine went mouldy. I'm going to modify this recipe at some point, and try again, as I love the idea.
Country wines (i.e. wines made with things other than grapes). I am intrigued with country wines and can't wait to get fermenting. An elderflower wine might be nice. And people say parsnip wine is really delicious... We'll see.
A cloudy lemonade or ginger ale is my drink of choice when driving. I don't make them myself, which I really should, especially as I don't like the ginger ale you buy that much. As chochotte put it, it 'seems to make my mouth sting but not taste of that much'. On which note, I've been meaning to make some Limonade Gingembre. Again I quote:
'Limonade gingembre is like old-fashioned lemonade, i.e. just lemon juice and sugar, but as it's infused with ginger as well so it has that warm, spicy bite to it. Much more subtle and nicer than ginger beer'.
I do love elderflower juice (or apple and elderflower juice) but it's pricy. I find most non-alcoholic drinks far too sweet and almost undrinkeable.
Iced tea. Just as long as it's not Lipton's.
I suppose I'd best start with tea, hadn't I? I had a lovely picnic on a top-up fees march in Trafalgar Square the other day. I can't actually remember what I ate, but I had a big flask of Earl Grey with lemon. This solved the problem of milk, as I can't stand tea that's been sitting in a thermos with milk added and taking another container of milk is a pain. And it's really difficult to judge how much milk you want in a thermos of tea.
Same problem for coffee. This is where my picnicmates at the Henley Regatta were one step ahead -- they had a cafetiere! So next picnic, I just need to take a cafetiere, a teapot, ground coffee (or a coffee grinder!), teabags (or leaf tea and a strainer!) and plenty of hot water. No problems. Although you could just make tea in a cafetiere, as well.
Hot chocolate always goes down well, especially on a dismal day.
So finally, I leave you with these words from Mrs Beeton:
Beverages: 3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; ginger-beer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne a discretion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained so it is useless to take it.
Any thoughts, ideas, recipes?