Yes, Canadians have earned the reputation as a beer drinking nation, but wine works better for camping.
Bottles and cans are actually banned from Provincial Parks (backcountry) so until they find a way to put beer in a Tetra Pak or they allow dehydrated alcohol in Canada, we will be packing wine on our trips. Note: in the US you can buy a brew concentrate – a “Backcountry carbonator kit“, but we haven’t found a way to order these in Canada (yet)!
So how much wine do you need on a camping trip? Perhaps the better question is how much wine do you want to portage?
This is a bit embarrassing, but we pack ½ litre a day per person. (Apparently, in our case, that works out to 1/3 for one person and 2/3 for the other.)
We don’t really count the first and last days, and there are days when we are packing, portaging and setting up camp when we don’t drink a full litre, so we actually take 11 litres for a 13 night trip.
The funny thing, we drink more wine camping than we do the other 50 weeks in the year. But there is something nice about sitting under a tree, by the waters edge, reading a good book and sipping on a glass of Cabernet.
So how do you get 11 litres of wine to your campsite?
If you are wondering how much wine weighs it is about 1.1 kg a litre. So 11 litres = 12.1 kg or 27 lbs)
You also need to consider which is worse, running out of wine or portaging wine back out.
On a short trip we can find room to pack the wine with our food but we needed a solution for longer trips. We decided to purchase a small food barrel that we have labeled “the wine barrel”. It holds a lot of wine and there is still room for snacks. If we are travelling, we will often put our lunch in the top of this barrel so it is easy to reach.
One couple we camp with has their wine ration worked out to 1 litre every day and a half. It is pretty funny watching them do the math each morning. Those calculations are a way too complicated for us.
One camper in our group only takes 4 litres for 13 days because he isn’t much of a wine drinker, however, he does pack 26 oz of Grand Marnier.
Grand Marnier transferred to a Nalgene bottle works great and it’s the perfect drink for sipping on a cold evening. Note: Be careful you don’t get confused and drink from the wrong bottle. Sitting by the fire one night, someone in our group took a big drink from their water bottle only to realize too late that she was chugging Grand Marnier. There was a lot of coughing and lots of laughing from unsupportive fellow campers.
For some variety check out our recipe for Grand Marnier Balls. They pack well and they are delicious!
- We’ve discovered that there is nothing wrong with warm white wine – especially if it’s enjoyed beside a campfire or with a spicy dinner.
- Buy one litre Tetra Paks rather than 3 and 4 litre bags with the spout; they travel better and if you lose one in an accident it isn’t a major loss.
- In the early days a mouse chewed the spout of a full wine bag and had a bit of a party. The poor thing left little red paw prints all over the table. The owners of the wine were very sad.
- Tetra Paks are fantastic, but they are square and the food barrels are round. No worries, you can always find things to stuff around them – like chocolate!
- If travelling with a group, put your initials on the caps of the Tetra Pak.
- We don’t mind sharing, but without the initials we seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out whose wine is whose. Initials on your wine glass helps too.
- Try to keep your Tetra Paks standing up if you need to put them back in the barrel after being opened. We have learned from experience – Tetra Paks can leak!
- Bring a plastic/LEXAN wine glass. We have wine glasses with a removable base. They pack well and the base can be used to keep bugs and ash out of your wine.
- We camped with people who drank wine out of their coffee mugs – it was painful to watch.
- Removable base/stems make it possible to create a stable duct tape base which will keep your glass from tipping over on windy days – very classy!
The Tetra Pak options are still limited in our local LCBO so we keep our eyes open during our travels.
French Cross Cabernet/Merlot and Shiraz and Chardonnay often make it on the trip. French Rabbit Cabernet and Merlot is popular too. We have been with people who have had Banrock Station Chardonnay and Bandit Pinot Grigio and no one complained.
It is hard to recommend a wine because it is such a personal thing. The good news – wine on a camping trip always tastes better than the exact same wine consumed at home. We like some better than others but no one we have camped with has ever dumped wine out.
The key is to pack a few different kinds at first and keep a note so you know which ones you prefer when you are getting ready for your next trip.
Check out our new “Sangria” recipe.