What to Bring on a Picnic Date

Whether you are planning a romantic date or getting together with friends and family, picnics are a great way to gather over a shared love of food and wine while enjoying nature. Planning the perfect picnic is easy with these wine and cheese picnic ideas.

Picnic outdoor with rose wine fruits meat and cheese

Wine and cheese enjoyed in the fresh air on a picnic blanket can be pure bliss. Some would say these are picnic date essentials! Pinot Noir Rosé can be paired with a semi-soft cheese such as Gruyère, Havarti, or perhaps Monterey Jack. These cheeses will be perfect served on a crispy baguette or toast crackers. Pack pasta salad or some smoked salmon on toasted bread or crackers for a perfect meal.

One of our favorite wine and cheese picnic ideas is Pinot Gris with Chevre to spread on a baguette or even some fresh Mozzarella and basil. Pack a couple of juicy peaches or cut up melon to compliment the wine and cheese. You could even include a homemade lemon dessert (lemon bars…mmm).

Be sure to chill the wine in advance and don’t forget the less glamorous (but still important) of the picnic date essentials – ice packs or frozen water bottles in the bottom of your basket will help to keep the wine chilled on a warm day. Cover the water bottles or ice packs with a tea towel and put items that need to be kept chilled at the bottom.

Whether you picnic at an orchard, the summit of your hike, or a local park, you can enjoy these wine and cheese picnic ideas! Keep it simple with a basket and a blanket or go all out with games, flowers, a speaker to play music. However you do it, you will want the drinks and food to be the main attraction.

How to Hold a Wine Glass Elegantly

Welcome to our guide on how to hold a wine glass elegantly. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to hold it inelegantly if you choose! But we find that observing some simple wine etiquette can make the experience that much more enjoyable – and it can impact the taste of your reds, whites, roses, and bubblies.

How to a hold a wine glass elegantly | Red wine vs white wine | Rainstorm Wines

How NOT to Hold a Wine Glass

While it feels very natural to hold a glass by the bowl, this is considered a taboo. For one thing, you’ll get smudgy fingerprints all over the glass!

It’s not an elegant look – and it makes it hard to see the color and clarity. Another reason is that your hands will warm the wine.

You certainly don’t want this with chilled whites or champagne, and reds, too, are better when they are cooler than room temperature. 

How to Hold a Wine Glass Elegantly

Is there a difference in holding a glass of red wine vs. white wine? No, the technique is the same – and it is simple!

Pinch the stem of the glass between your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Your fingers should be placed on the lower half of the stem, with your middle finger just above the base.

Your ring and pinky fingers will rest on the top of the base. Give it a try. You’ll find you have plenty of stability and your hand is well away from the bowl.

Another option is to use your index finger and thumb. Wrap your index finger around one side of the stem.

The tip of your thumb will support the other side. Again, your hand will be positioned towards the lower part of the stem.

What are your other fingers doing? They’re just curled into your palm loosely (not touching the base).

You can also use your thumb and index finger to pinch the stem right above the base. They’ll brush lightly against the base.

Your middle finger rests on the underside of the base, giving you more stability. Let your two remaining fingers rest as they will (e.g. pressed into your palm or against your middle finger).

There’s one more method, and while “socially acceptable,” we’re not huge fans. Your thumb rests over the base.

The top parts index and middle fingers support from the underside of the base, and the ring and pinky fingers are curved into your palm.

You do not touch the stem at all. We do not like this because (1) it looks awkward, and (2) it is the least stable way to hold a wine glass.

What About Those Tricky Stemless Glasses?

We love the elegance of a stemmed glass, but there’s no doubt stemless is a popular choice. Hold the glass towards the base or bottom.

Try to minimize contact: you can do this by using only your thumb and two fingers. The remaining two can support the glass from underneath or curl away from the surface.

There you have it: now you know how to hold a wine glass elegantly. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference in both the taste and the experience. We are sure you will!

How Full Should a Wine Glass Be?

If you are wondering how much wine to pour in a glass, there are two answers. One is short and simple: as much as you’d like! When you want to enjoy a warm summer night or cozy up on the couch in winter, you’re more concerned with your menu – or which Netflix show you’re going to binge on next.

How much wine to pour in a glass | Wine service etiquette | Rainstorm Wines

But it is also fun to know a little wine service etiquette so you can pull out your knowledge and impress guests (or simply pour the appropriate amount so you can enjoy it to its fullest).

Wine Service Etiquette: Depends on the Glass

First things first: let’s talk about the glass itself. In general, red wine glasses are taller and feature a larger bowl.

This is because they tend to be more big and bold; the bowl allows you to fully experience the flavors and aromas.

White wine glasses are typically smaller in order to preserve the aromas and keep the temperature cooler.

The simplest method is to simply fill red wine glasses one-third full so you have room to give it a good swirl and aerate the wine.

Fill white glasses half-full and sparkling wines about three-quarters full.

How Much Wine to Pour in a Glass: Geographically Speaking

If you want a more in-depth guide, dust off your geography knowledge and put it to use! Look for the widest point of the bowl and pretend it’s the equator.

If you go up about a quarter of the bowl, you’ll have the Tropic of Cancer, and if you go down about a quarter, you’ll have the Tropic of Capricorn.

Some wine experts recommend filling your glass to the Tropic of Capricorn. This allows the wine to breathe and you can give it a swirl.

This increases the surface area the wine has with air, and it helps to release the smell (which is a key factor in taste).

Oxygenation softens tannins in reds and enhances the delicate characteristics of whites.

When you are hosting guests or feeling a little fancy, try this simple wine service etiquette trick. And then enjoy!

Want to try our wine, buy a bottle today.

What Is the Driest Wine?

“Dry” is a word often used when describing wine, but it can be confusing. Some people use it to mean that the wine “feels” dry in the mouth or will, in fact, dry it out. This is not the case! A dry wine is one that has no residual sugar, so it is not sweet. If this appeals to your taste buds, you may want to consult a white and red wine sweetness chart to ensure you are getting the driest white wine or driest red that will suit your palate.

Driest white wine | Red wine sweetness chart | Rainstorm Wines

Alcohol is produced during the fermentation process as yeast eats the sugar that is contained in the juice. Depending on the varietal, winemakers stop this process before the yeast can finish the feast. This leaves “residual sugar” behind. For dry wines, the process is allowed to finish. 

To make a very broad generalization, most Americans are acclimated to a diet with a higher sugar content than our counterparts overseas. As a result, many do not prefer truly dry wine; they like a hint of sweetness or a “semi-dry” option.

Luckily, there are options all along the spectrum. The driest white wine, for example, is Muscadet. This is a bone-dry French wine with a mineral taste and citrus notes. From there, in order from dry to sweet, are some popular dry white wine choices:

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Chardonnay 
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Viognier 
  • Torrontes 
  • Gewürztraminer 
  • Riesling
  • Moscato
  • White Port 
  • Ice Wine

For dry reds:

  • Sangiovese 
  • Tempranillo 
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah 
  • Merlot 
  • Malbec
  • Garnacha 
  • Zinfandel 
  • Lambrusco Dolce
  • Port 
  • Tawny Port

Wine Folly has a great white and red wine sweetness chart with other varietals that you can try. If you want to try a dry, sample Natura’s Cabernet Sauvignon or try our Rainstorm Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. While we wouldn’t say they are the driest of the dry, they give you a nice entry into this world. Let us know what you think!

What Is Pinot Noir Rosé?

The best Oregon Rosé wine will take you by surprise. Pinot Noir Rosé in Oregon is an incredibly bright and crisp wine that’s perfect for all seasons. How is it made and what will it go with? That’s easy to learn:

Best Oregon Rosé Wine | Pinot Noir Rosé in Oregon | Rainstorm Wines

How Pinot Noir Rosé is Made

Pinot Noir Rosés use the same Pinot Noir grapes that the famous red wine from the Willamette and Umpqua valleys use. The juice is strained from its skins and pulp earlier to keep a lighter and more delicate flavor. It requires a delicate balance between the qualities of Rosé and Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir Rosé in Oregon uses grapes that are direct pressed for the Rosé. This accounts for two thirds of the grapes. The other third comes from a Pinot Noir tank. This emboldens the fruit flavors and provides a more decided structure.

The Flavor and Finish

The result is the best Oregon Rosé wine. Its beautiful rose-pink color glitters in the light, evoking dappled light on a river at sunset. It’s reassuring in both summer and winter. The flavor is that of strawberries, with an acidity that cuts through thicker flavors. This is a big advantage of Pinot Noir Rosé over Rosés that have a less complex delivery and less crispness. The finish is both delicate and succulently dry, enhancing the fruit flavors and floral bouquet.

A Pinot Noir Rosé demands more attention than your average Rosé. Too many Rosés are sweet but flat in their flavors and don’t fully stand alongside and complement the snacks and meals you pair with them.

Good for Diets, Brilliant for Pairing

Best of all, the dryness of Pinot Noir Rosé wines means they’re much more appropriate for diets like keto than other roses would be. Ordinary Rosés are often far too sweet. Pinot Noir Rosés are dryer and allow you to enjoy fuller, more flavorful Rosés with a fraction of the sugar content.

Pinot Noir Rosé in Oregon is ideal with seafood, raw vegetables and strong tastes. Seared scallops are a perfect pairing. Salads with strong tastes like red onion and feta are delicious. Of course, this means the robust taste of bruschetta goes wonderfully with it. For fuller meals, try it with pork loin in a cherry sauce.

What Is a Clone Wine?

An army of clones has invaded the Pacific Northwest! Well, not exactly. Oregon Pinot Noir wines use clone plants. Does that mean Pinot Noir clones were grown in a vat? Are they the subject of a mad experiment? No. All a clone means in this sense is that it’s propagated from one parent plant. It’s not the result of a cross-pollination between multiple plants.

Pinot Noir Clones | Oregon Pinot Noir Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Attack of the Clones?

Pinot Noir clones are used the world over. Did you know that Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris all come from the same grape? Then how do they taste so wildly different? How is one a red wine and the other two are white wines? The grapes involved are simply mutations of the same variety.

There are actually more than 1,000 different clones of Pinot. In each case, a particular plant’s grapes are desired to continue making a variety of wine. Cross-pollination would change inherent properties in the grape, so instead the original plant is simply propagated.

Each different clone that’s grown creates different qualities in its wine. Many require different growing environments. For instance, Pinot Noir is known as a temperamental grape that’s difficult to grow.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Diversity is important – it creates a healthier environment. This is why many vineyards maintain several different clones of a particular grape and blend various clones together. They’re still blending various Pinot Noir grapes together to make a Pinot Noir, so it’s not the same as a blend that mixes entirely different kinds of wine.

Oregon Pinot Noir was founded on Pommard, Wadenswil, and clones that originally come from the U.S. A number of Dijon clones later came over. This blend of different Pinot Noir clones from different origins has enabled Oregon vineyards to produce luscious, bold, floral Pinot Noirs that capture the imagination and delight the palate.

Oregon vs. Burgundy Pinot Noir: A Comparison

Why is Oregon Pinot Noir compared so often to Burgundy Pinot Noir? The wine achieved its greatest fame growing in the vineyards of Burgundy, France, so it’s a compliment when Willamette Valley wines are called Burgundian. How is it that Oregon wines recall their French cousins so vividly?

Oregon Pinot Noir vs. Burgundy | Willamette Valley Wines | Rainstorm Wines

In a Class of Their Own

“New World” Pinot Noirs don’t just refer to those grown in the United States. They can also refer to wines grown in New Zealand. Now, many places take an approach to Pinot Noir that pronounces its fruit flavors and lose some of the wine’s inherent, patient balance. It’s simply a matter of taste, but this can be one way California and New Zealand Pinot Noirs differ.

Climate Cousins

It’s not always intentional, either – at least not at first. Pinot Noir grapes are affected by weather, region, light and cloud cover, soil composition – an incredible range of factors that start before the more specific ones that winemakers control.

Like Oregon, Burgundy sees cool conditions with a good deal of cloud cover. The soil composition in both areas is very unique and uncommon. Both Oregon and Burgundy use some of the same “vine clones” – vines that are propagated from a particular plant. Some producers even produce Pinot Noir in both areas – Oregon and Burgundy.

More Similarities Than Differences

There’s something about Oregon Pinot Noir that maintains the greater complexity and silken texture of those Burgundy wines. It’s more elegant, with a taste of fruit that’s deep and lingering instead of immediate. For many, that’s how you recognize both an Oregon Pinot Noir and a Burgundian one. They’re both more subtle. There’s a touch more acidity, which develops a better balance. That can pronounce their mouthfeel that much more with ideal pairings.

A comparison comes away showing that Oregon and Burgundy Pinot Noir are remarkably similar and satisfying for many of the same reasons. If anything, the Oregon wines are just a touch earthier, a delicious quality in a Pinot Noir and a very Oregon-centric feature. They mix elegance with minerality that evokes its fruit flavors in incredible ways. You’re also more likely to find Oregon Pinot Noir with a bit more range, such as variants with lower alcohol content (better for dieting!) The Burgundy wines are masters of oakiness, and delivering their fruit components in waves.

More Complex, More Elegant

The main takeaway here is that both Oregon and Burgundy wines leave Californian and New Zealand versions in the dust when it comes to more complex wines. They have deeper, more layered taste, and their better acidity levels make Oregon and Burgundy Pinots more fulfilling when pairing them with snacks or meals.

7 Tips to Keep Wine Fresh After Opening

Everyone’s had a sip of wine that’s been open too long. What’s the secret to keep wine fresh after opening? There are actually a few proven tricks to storing opened wine. These tips can help extend a wine’s life so you can enjoy a bottle at your leisure.

Rainstrom Wines

1. Use vacuum pumps.

Wine breaks down through oxidation. One of the best protections for storing open wine is to pump the oxygen out of the bottle and leave a vacuum remaining. A vacuum pump is very effective and sold at many stores. It won’t create a true vacuum, but it will create one that’s 70% effective. 

2. Keep open wine in a dark place.

Natural light spurs heat inside the bottle. That makes the oxidation process happen faster. This is one reason red wines often come in darkly tinted bottles. It helps protect what’s inside from light. It doesn’t have to be an absolutely dark place, but this is one reason why wines are best stored inside a cupboard, in a recessed wine rack, or in a wine fridge.

3. Refrigerate wine.

Storing your wine in cool temperatures slows the oxidation process down. A wine fridge is ideal because it keeps wines at an even temperature without becoming too cold. This keeps the wine closer to serving temperature than a normal fridge would.

4. Know its shelf life.

This won’t extend the life of your wine, but it will ensure you drink it before it starts turning off. Sparkling wine will go most quickly, at 1-3 days time. Red wine lasts 3-5 days. White wines can last anywhere from 3-7 days, with lighter bodied wines and rosés lasting the longest. Fortified wines can last about a month.

5. Wine stoppers can help.

No, Wine Stoppers isn’t a covert organization dedicated to stopping your enjoyment of wine. Wine stoppers are anything that helps create an airtight seal over the bottle. Ones that use soft flanges will work best.

6. Use wine shields.

These are soft plastic shields that you can fold and slip into a bottle of wine. They have air bubbles in the plastic, so that when they unfold, they float at the surface of the wine. This provides a floating cover that separates the wine from the air in the bottle. It moves to the side as you pour, because it wants to float on the upper surface of the wine.

7. Inert gas?

If you really want to get high tech, you can replace the oxygen in the bottle with an inert gas like argon. This keeps wine fresh after opening because argon doesn’t react to the wine like oxygen does. It will cover the surface of the wine, creating an unseen layer between the wine and the oxygen. Make sure you seal the bottle at the top so the argon isn’t tempted to escape over time.

Next time you enjoy a glass of your favorite wine, try one of these methods to keep it fresh.

How Is Wine Made?

The wine making process happens in stages. It starts with the harvesting of grapes and ends in a delicious glass of wine sitting in your hand. People have been making wine for at least 6,000 years and possibly longer. This is how wine is made today:

How wine is made

1. Harvesting the Grapes

Vineyards grow the grapes for what the varietals they plan to make, considering, of course, the soil conditions and climate. Wine grapes must be harvested at the exact right time of year so that they’ll have the right acidity, flavor, and sweetness. This depends on the environment and weather that year. Hand-picking the grapes helps preserve them longer – until the next step.

2. Crushing the Grapes

This might be the most famous part of how wine is made. Don’t worry, no one’s crushing them with their feet the way they do in classic movies. For a long time, this has been done mechanically.

For white wine, the pressed grape juice is separated from the pulpy parts of the grape, skin, and seeds. Red wine isn’t separated, as it acquires flavor and tannins from its prolonged contact.

3. The Fermentation Process

This juice is also called must. It’s left to ferment. Some winemakers leave it to do so naturally, and others add cultured yeast to make the process more predictable.

What does fermentation mean? This is when the sugar in the juice develops into alcohol. The longer the process goes, the more sugar converts into alcohol. This creates a dry wine. The earlier the process is stopped, the more sugar remains, creating a sweeter wine.

4. Clarifying the Wine

This process leaves proteins, yeasts, and other solids in the wine. This has to be clarified. The wine is racked into containers.

Winemakers may add elements that help to clarify out the wine’s impurities. Different solids are attracted to different natural materials. This is called fining. Clay is often used because it attracts these solids and then sinks to the bottom. This makes it easier to filter the wine into the container in which it will age.

5. Aging the Wine

Wines can be bottled immediately, but they’re typically aged for some time. This can be done in barrels, tanks, or bottles. Oak barrels are often used to preserve the smoothness of red wines while adding flavor. Steel tanks are often used for white wines to retain crispness.

When it’s done aging, the wine is bottled for sale. This is the wine making process in full. Now you know ever step in how wine is made. It’s something to appreciate the next time you enjoy a glass.

Top 5 Food and Wine Pairings You’re Missing

Looking for the best food and wine pairings? If you want to break out of the old stand-bys, you have to try something new. Food and wine pairing rules still apply – but you can (and should) get creative with them. 

wine parings

Here are 5 of the best food and wine pairings you may be overlooking:

1. Red Wine and Fish

Fish is typically paired with white wine. This is a proven, successful pairing. Why is it that they work so well together? Part of it is that white wine grapes are low in tannins. This means there’s little chance of a bitter taste. Look for red wines that are similarly low in tannins: a Pinot Noir is ideal.

2. Pairing with Salad?

Specific wines fit specific vegetables. Mix those veggies together and you lose that specificity, though. Does anything go with a salad that’s got lots of raw veggies? Try a rose. It has a fruit-forward character with crispness and a dry finish – perfect for matching a salad. If your salad has fruit in it, even better. The two will pair beautifully.

3. Tapenade Pairings

Tapenade is a delicious snack made chiefly from olives. Additional ingredients can change the flavor of tapenade, which makes it pretty versatile. If your tapenade is made from traditional recipes, aim for a white wine that’s crisp. If it includes sundried tomato, choose a sweet red wine.

4. White Pizza and Pinot Gris

Pizza with tomato sauce always tastes good with a red wine. What about white pizzas? Focus on the taste of cheese and other ingredients. Blends of soft cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta taste incredible with pinot gris. Best of all, pinot gris is ideal for pairing with many pizza toppings, from nearly all roast vegetables to chicken and seafood options. 

5. Sparkling Wine with Dessert

One of the most overlooked food and wine pairing rules has to do with sweet foods. When you’re pairing with a dessert, you always want the wine to be slightly sweeter. This avoids any hints of bitterness. What about when that dessert has dairy in it, like in custards or crème brulee? Here, sparkling wine delivers that sweetness. The fizziness also provides a texture that cuts through the smoothness of the dairy. The two combined make each component – dessert and wine – taste that much more refreshing.

There you have the best food and wine pairings that you’re missing out on? Which one will you make next?