That's right, Mr. Ranger Sir, it's pic-a-nic basket time.
We may pack a basket to accompany a concert at a favorite outdoor venue, to enjoy under the trees at a county or state park, or to savor in the sunshine while lounging on a pristine beach.
And with a long holiday weekend right in front of us, what better excuse for enjoying a relaxing meal in the great outdoors?
Whether planning a picnic just for yourself to get away from it all for a few hours...for you and your sweetie so you can spend some quality time together...or for a group of family members or friends...two essential ingredients are wine and cheese.
You certainly wouldn't get any argument to that assertion from the good people of Wisconsin, a.k.a. "America's Dairyland."
During the last Ice Age, glaciers cut through much of the state, leaving behind rolling hills and lush pastureland that early settlers found to be perfect for dairying.
Brick cheese is a Wisconsin original, created near the town of Theresa by a Swiss immigrant during the 1870s. About the same time, Colby cheese was created in the town of Colby. Wisconsin's first cheese factory was developed in 1876 near Sheboygan.
The Monroe area and surrounding Green County is home to the largest concentration of cheesemakers and the most certified Master Cheesemakers in the nation. More than 350 varieties, types and styles of cheese are produced in Wisconsin today--far more than in any other state.
But what kind of wine goes with what kind of cheese? Well, only your palate can answer that question with any degree of certainty. But here are a few of our favorite pairings...
- Manchego: A semi-firm to hard Spanish cheese with a rich, creamy color. Delicious when accompanied by olives, it can range from mild to sharp, depending on how long it has been aged. Wine match: (red) Zinfandel.
- Brie: A soft and creamy cheese from France, often thought of as the perfect picnic cheese. For a special treat, eat it with Granny Smith apples and a California-style, off-dry Riesling.
- Gouda: A yellow Dutch cheese with a mild, nut-like flavor and creamy texture. Try it with toasted almonds and Cabernet Sauvignon.
No matter what cheese and wine you select, here's one more piece of advice: Keep an eye out for that pic-a-nic basket-stealing bear.