The type of picnic drinks you take with you will obviously depend on the type of alfresco meal you are planning.
Adults will usually appreciate some form of alcohol, as well as soft drinks, unless they are driving, pregnant or it is against their religion.
Children should be offered liquid refreshment often, especially if they are running around in the sun.
Water should always be available as the best thirst quencher for everybody.
if you want to serve wine, I suggest you leave your special bottles at home and go for the cheap and cheerful varieties - those which can withstand a hot or bumpy journey and are easy to drink.
If you want to keep it simple and confine the picnic drinks to one colour, then go for a dry rosé. Australia produce some very nice ones, as do Italy, Spain and Hungary.
Chill bottles of rosé or white wine well in advance as well as packing in coolers with ice or freezer packs.
The bright and fruity flavours go well with all sorts of picnic foods. However, make sure you serve it really cold. Warm rosé is nasty!
For barbecued food you need wines with real character as they have to stand up well to intense marinades and smoky, char-grilled flavours. Really oaky wines, both red and white, match well with this type of food.
Champagne might well spring to mind if you’re preparing for a posh picnic and want to celebrate more than just a sunny day . . .
(and you can buy lovely picnic flutes these days)
. . . but of course fizz also comes in other, often cheaper, forms - such as a crisp, floral prosecco, a Spanish cava, or a sparkling New World wine.
For wine without bubbles try a light, refreshing white such as Portuguese Vinho Verde or an Italian Pinot Grigio.
Herby Mediterranean dishes call for aromatic whites like a very dry Muscadet, or a grassy Sancerre while smokey barbecue flavours mix well with the bolder New World wines like Sauvignon, Semillon and Chardonnay.
You may choose to follow the European tradition of serving a chilled red as your picnic drink, such as a Spanish Tempranillo, or a light Loire, Beaujolais or Chianti.
Of course you can save on the cool-box space if you serve a full-bodied red wine. My favourites are soft reds such as Spanish Rioja or South African Merlot and Pinotage.
Try tinto de verano/summer red wine as they call it in Spain, by mixing chilled red wine with some lemonade and soda water, ice cubes and some orange and lemon slices.
Add a little more - orange juice and a splash of brandy - and you have a refreshing Sangria spritzer.
Of course there are lots of other picnic drinks to choose from apart from wine.
Pimm's is a very popular summer drink in England and you won’t hear many men complaining about a nice cold beer or lager.
Cider is another appealing choice, especially for a picnic in the country. There are many varieties to choose from and some are a lot more alcoholic than you think – so beware!
Beware too if you take cans of beer or cider (or indeed soft drinks) on your picnic. Make sure you pour the contents into glasses before drinking - or wash the cans thoroughly. The bacteria found on cans in some cases can make you extremely ill.
In the heat (or even not in the heat!) it’s always best to drink equal quantities of water with your alcohol – especially if you don’t want to end up, like me, in a bed of nettles! (It was a long time ago and I’ve learnt my lesson!)
Forget the fizzy cans and make something really refreshing like home-made lemonade for the kids, which is much better for them and tastes amazingly good. If you struggle to get five portions of fruit and vegetables into them, I’m sure all the lemon juice must count as one fruit!
Another way to get the recommended five portions of fruit & veg. into your daily diet, is to buy or make smoothies to take on your picnic.
Iced tea is supposed to be soothing on a hot summer’s day but, in the UK anyway, I’m sure you’ll find lots of people will be happy with hot tea and even coffee. Try iced coffee too.
Elderflower Cordial is another very refreshing drink for a summer picnic - many thanks to Alison for submitting the recipe for this.
Ginger beer or a ginger cordial mix is also a terrific non-alcoholic picnic drink. Ginger is very refreshing and also helps with travel sickness I believe, so if you have someone on your picnic who didn’t like the journey …. !
Ginger cordial can be added to hot or cold liquid, fizzy or still. It’s good with lemon juice and sparkling mineral water too.
Hot tea and coffee are standard but you might like to make hot chocolate too - and how about hot chilli chocolate?
This drink is the most fantastic combination and a great winter warmer.
Note: You can buy chilli chocolate but you get a better flavour (and it’s cheaper) by using plain dark chocolate (as good as you can afford) and chillies.
Looking for something more alcoholic with a lovely festive aroma of red wine and spices? Make some mulled wine and you'll glow inside on a winter's picnic.