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Wines for your summer picnic

As spring starts slipping into summer, the picnic's appeal grows. It's time for casual, versatile wines - nothing too complicated, nothing very expensive.

The ideal picnic red: Beaujolais. Grapy, lighthearted and youthful, Beaujolais goes with almost anything, typically delivering sweet berry and cherry flavors and a floral note.

Georges Duboeuf is among the very reliable Beaujolais producers. From a sunny vintage, the 2009 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages ($10) is a smooth, full-bodied contribution, with plenty of red fruit, especially cherry. Serve it slightly chilled.

For richer Beaujolais, look for the "crus," from the better vineyards. There are 10 of them: Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Côte-de-Brouilly, Fléurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-á- Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour. The Duboeuf crus go from about $13 to $18.

For a picnic white, try a modest pinot grigio. The 2007 Angelini Pinot Grigio ($12) offers tropical fruit and fresh flavor. Fuller and more aromatic: the 2009 Livon Collio Pinot Grigio ($20), especially good with seafood.

An American spin: the 2008 Seven Hills Winery Pinot Gris ($16), with melon and citrusy accents, a ripe one from Oregon's Walla Walla Valley.

And a springtime picnic always could use a bottle of refreshing rosé. Look for the balanced, prettily pink 2009 Domaines Ott Les Domaniers Rosé ($20). This mostly Grenache trip to Provence is terrific with everything from cold cuts to spicy Asian fare.

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