Five Tips For Drinking Wine Outdoors
By Erin Drain in Food on Jun 3, 2013 5:40PM
It might be a little rainy these days, but hey, we'll take whatever above-50 temps we've got. Between neighborhood barbecues, Ravinia, and the Millennium Park concert season kicking off, it's time to embrace the outdoors. Wine can and should be a part of the equation. But when it comes to tippling outside, convenience is key. Make it easier on yourself to imbibe with the following tips (and tipples).
1) Keep it simple. Most of us don't carry corkscrews in our purses (but no judging if you do!), so for the party and park season, embrace the screwcap. Certain countries have defaulted to this method, and so if you're looking for ease, search for wine from New Zealand, Chile, and Austria, all of which prefer this closure. (And Austria is known for frequently packaging wine in 1-liter bottles instead of 750ml, making you 25% more popular when you bring one to a party!)
2) Leave nothing behind. Nobody likes a litterbug! Eliminate the chances of this by eschewing the aforementioned cork and foil; screwcaps and cute, reusable stemware mean a lot less debris and fewer abandoned Solo cups in the grass. Keep it comfy for all of us.
3) Check the alternative packaging. To really be efficient, avoid toting multiple heavy bottles and instead opt for wine in a box. And no, we don't mean Grandma's Franzia. Lots of great cooperative wineries now package their juice in handy 3-liter containers, perfect for a group, with no danger of breakage or spoiling. If you're counting your pennies, choose a white wine, which is almost always less expensive, and the chilly serving temperature helps to hide the "economical" taste.
4) Plan ahead. If you're heading to Millennium Park and forget to bring the hooch, you're stuck with Walgreens options and very high Loop markup. Make a point to get off the El one stop early and swing into Pastoral on Lake Street. They also have a French Market location if you're heading to Ravinia. And hey, Metra allows you to drink on the train, so get a head start and mellow out the blanket war stress before you arrive.
5) Know your laws. Millennium Park allows alcohol consumption within certain areas, as do Metra and Ravinia. DuPage County forest preserves do not, but Cook County forest preserves do, as long as there's no glass and you're not within 50 feet of a parking lot or roadway. (Read: alternative packages, no fancy stemware, champagne in cans).
Chicago is ripe with opportunity for drinking wine outdoors if you play it smart and keep it casual. If you really need to raise a Lalique flute of Champagne and saber some magnums in Chicago this summer, cool. Just do it on private property. And make sure to invite us!