The How-to of Wine by the Campfire

When I think of camping, I think of three things: a warm crackling fire, a deep crimson sunset and food-friendly wine.

Every summer, I usually take off to Gabriola Island, located near Nanaimo, because my family has a little spot there close to a beautiful beach named Gabriola Sands.

Relaxing gulf-island style means a slower pace, quality time with friends, and a good reason to enjoy summer libations. Although beer is a popular camping beverage, wine is my camp drink of choice for many reasons. Did you know that a six-pack of beer is equivalent to one bottle of wine? Wine also takes up less space in your bags, is lighter in weight and saves on recycling.



Before leaving town, I often visit my good friend Erin Boggs at Robinsons Outdoor Store, where she hooks me up with any wine related camping gear I need. Some favorites among camping experts at Robinsons include collapsible plastic wine glasses and re-usable wine sacks, which cut down on space, weight, and recycling.



After a two-hour trip from Victoria, we arrive on Gabriola Island, quickly unpack our gear, and set up our tents.  We are eager to get to the beach because it is prime beach bocce weather.


Tip #1

If you don’t have a cooler, the best way to keep your wine perfectly chilled is to put it in the river or ocean and weight it down with some heavy rocks. Essentially, you need to create a nest of rocks to prevent it from getting pulled away by the current.



Collapsible wine glasses are essential, not only to save space, but they are literally indestructible.  Whether they are plastic or stainless steel, you also feel sophisticated in your beach shorts and flip-flops.



If saving on weight in your pack is important for your style of camping, use a plastic wine sack, such as the popular brand Platypus. Pouring a bottle of wine into a wine sack not only saves on space and weight, it also saves on recycling because you can roll it up leaving almost nothing to repack. These are also great because you can squeeze out most of the air, keeping the wine from getting oxidized for up to three days.




When the day at the beach is done, we arrive back at our campsite burnt and sandy, without a care in the world.

The boys start building the fire and the girls and I crack open a bottle of chilled white Ketu Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The fire starts crackling and we bring out a whole trout and skewered prawns that we have brought to roast over the fire. Garlic scapes are in season, so we cook them in a cast iron pan with sweet onions. I’m not sure if this goes for everyone else, but in my group of friends, we always seem to cook heavier meat later in the night when the sun goes down and the sweaters come out, which is usually paired with a robust red wine.



Light fish and prawns

Dry, light- to medium-bodied white wine. A wine with vegetal and citrus flavours such as NZ Sauvignon Blanc (Ketu Bay), Italian Pinot Grigio (Mezzacorona), or a B.C. dry Rielsing (Tantalus OV or Little Farm).


Smokies, wieners, veggie dogs, chicken

A heavier white such as a B.C. Viognier (Laughing Stock) or an oaky Californian Chardonnay (Wente Morning Fog) work well with a charred and juicy smoky or chicken with ash from the fire.  Rosé, Beaujolais, and lighter-style Pinot Noir also pair perfectly with a lighter protein meal.

Garlic Scapes
Rich red meat

Go with a tannic, full-bodied red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz or an Argentine Bonarda (Broquel). Technically, tannins in a big red act as a palate cleanser when eating meat with any sort of fat content. Tannins also marry perfectly with red meat protein, making this a popular choice for steak and brisket.


Being the first to emerge from my tent the next morning, I sit down in my folding camping chair and stare blankly at the steamy ashes, and empty wine bottles lined up perfectly along a log.


It was a good night and I wish the summer would last forever.


— by Pico Whittier


Gabriola Island

Robinsons Outdoor Store

1307 Broad Street, Victoria, BC  V8W 2A8




Written By:

We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ...

Comments are closed.