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Picnics, parties, pergolas: How to elevate your outdoor dining experience

Alfresco tips to make the most of the seasonal bounty and balmy weather.

By Gourmet Traveller + Lanson
One of the pleasures of living in the Southern Hemisphere is the fact that our years end – and begin – in summer. The days are warmer, the sun sets later, and the mood is always celebratory. So naturally, most of the season and its events are spent outdoors. Even with La Niña threatening to spoil the fun, your summer should still be filled with unforgettable alfresco moments. Here we share the ultimate guide to outdoor entertaining this year.
Photo: supplied

How to plan around the weather

Alfresco is Italian for being out in the open, and celebrating outdoors is always unpredictable – whether it's scorching heat, a surprising cold snap or just temperamental wind. With a La Niña weather system throughout much of the country this year (particularly northern and eastern Australia) it may be tempting to forego planning outdoor celebrations. But we recommend against that. Instead, have a shortlist of easy-to-prepare recipes for picnics and garden parties, and keep the fridge stocked with celebratory drinks like Champagne for last-minute festivities. Don't fret about the weather and savour the unforgettable sunsets and balmy days when they come. If you're planning in advance, try to limit it to a week out from the event and have a contingency plan in place.
Or, if you can, prepare an indoor-outdoor party that's ready to move inside if the weather takes a turn for the worse. If all else fails, have your event indoors rather than cancelling. Because at the end of the day, it's about the company. The setting is just a bonus.
Lanson Le Rosé Champagne Photo: supplied

What to drink

Champagne is synonymous with occasion. And although the entire Champagne Lanson range is perfect for celebrations, the Lanson Le Rosé Champagne is ideal for outdoor contexts. Visually, its subtle salmon pink colour looks beautiful in the glass (and stands out more than typical champagne on overcast days, which may be a feature of this summer). That colour is enhanced by its fruit-forward aromas of raspberry, pomegranate and blood orange, with a rosy, floral finish. Those notes are present on the palate too, alongside pomelo, strawberry and redcurrant and tempered by a crisp mineral through-line.
Rosé is having a renaissance right now. It's appearing in spritzes on tap all over, and more and more bottles are making their débuts on the wine lists of top restaurants. And, given that champagne never goes out of style, serving a bottle of Lanson Le Rosé is an ideal way to nod to the rosé trend in a timeless manner. It's the best of both worlds.
Strawberries and cream Photo: John Paul Urizar

What to eat

Eating alfresco, especially in summer, requires special consideration too. It's all about delicate and fresh flavours. If you're sitting down outside, you have more options. Seafood is always a good idea: a half-cooked salmon with a sesame crust and fennel will work well,
and it's ideal for sharing. Or, opt for a tuna tataki with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi. Lanson's Le Rosé's crisp flavour and subtle sweetness is a wonderful match for seafood.
Lanson's Le Rosé isn't a dessert wine, but it's a great complement to sweeter foods. If the centrepiece of your alfresco Christmas lunch is an iconic pavlova, it will make a perfect partner. Top your pavlova with red berries, strawberries and cherries – next to a bottle of Lanson's Le Rosé, the scene will be set. If you're having a stand-up event, go classic with individual glasses of strawberries and cream – the iconic Wimbledon dessert is tailor-made for summer, and Lanson has been the official champagne of the world's most famous tennis tournament for over 40 years. So it's a tried-and-true flavour combination.
Brought to you by Champagne Lanson. At Champagne Lanson, it's all about love: the love of terroir, taste and celebration. It's the perfect champagne for celebrating outdoors.
  • undefined: Gourmet Traveller + Lanson