Two weekends ago, a friend and I drove up the road from Rabbits Foot Canyon, to Fish Lake, to take her dog for a walk. While the roads were mostly dry, there was still a good foot or two of snow scattered intermittently along the path that we walked.
The sky was blue and the bright afternoon sun bounced off of the still-frozen lake and remaining patches of snow. Off came the jackets and I began to think of what a perfect place this would have been for a spring picnic.
We sat on a patch of dry moss and soaked up the stillness and that wonderful smell that warmed earth and emerging plants make when the sun melts the winter blanket and promises that summer will be here again.
I kicked myself for not bringing a bottle of something white to pull from my backpack and set in a patch of snow to chill. My first choice would have been a bottle of Portuguese Vinho Verde with its crisp, bright taste and refreshing citrus finish – the taste that lingers in your mouth after you swallow.
In the last several weeks, I have been drinking a very tasty one that I look forward to taking on hikes with me this summer. It is called Gatão, which is Portuguese for cat. It’s about $14 locally and you will recognize it in our local wine store as it has a cat on the label and an easy-to-open screw top if you forget your corkscrew.
This type has all the virtues that I think comprise a perfect wine for a day hike: it’s dry and light and quite thirst-quenching, almost like a spritzer. The aforementioned citrus finish means you don’t necessarily feel the need to follow it with a swallow of water the way you might if you were drinking a more buttery-tasting wine like a chardonnay.
As well, while all Vinho Verdes are slightly effervescent or bubbly, this one has big, robust, almost club-soda-like bubbles, which I find enhances the refreshing effect. And to cap it all off, it’s only nine per cent alcohol or about three-quarters of the amount found in a normal white wine.
This means fewer calories and a reduced tendency to want to nap after a bottle rather than hike to that summit and enjoy the view.
While I was craving a glass at Fish Lake, just to add to the moment, I anticipate packing a bottle next time I head to Kluane or Carcross for a day hike. I will dust off my lexan wine glasses that a friend bought for me several Christmases ago.
These have been down the Yukon River, up Grey Mountain and on a number of other trips. I highly recommend them as a lightweight way to enhance a picnic or meal on a hike. They seem to make the wine experience in the wild just a little more pleasurable … at least for me.
The glasses have screw-off bases and nest inside the bowls when not in use. They’re about $6 at Coast Mountain Sports and are great fun to pull out when you sit down to a hiking lunch.
Another great wine-drinking innovation is one I expect to make frequent use of over the coming months: it’s the PlatyPreserve Wine Preservation System made by Platypus, a company that makes hydration bladders for backpackers and runners.
It’s a 750-millilitre, opaque BPA-free plastic bag with a screw top that will allow you to pour a whole bottle of wine into it to avoid the weight and risk of broken glass (or a forgotten corkscrew) associated with hiking with wine bottles.
The plastic is apparently formulated so as not to add any funny taste to the wine, and because you can squeeze out any air, the wine should stay “just opened” fresh. And, of course, when it’s empty, the PlatyPreserve folds to the size of a big cellphone.
I can’t wait to take a couple of these “bottles” of wine the next time I camp overnight … Hmm! Coast Mountain will also be stocking these and, while I don’t know what the price will be, I suspect it will be well under $20.
As I’ve written in past articles, I feel that wine enhances meal experiences and time spent with good friends. I look forward to sitting on a mountain top and looking out over the Yukon River, this summer, sharing a fine dinner with friends and being able to offer them a wine experience in this wonderful Yukon, a place of beauty that is second to none.