Picture this: You’re screaming down a rocky single-track under the canopy of trees with rays of sunlight shooting through the gaps, gripping the handlebars tightly and praying you stay upright, yet loving every second of it… whew!  What an adrenaline rush!  Now you’re ready for a recovery drink, right?  How about a glass of wine?  Say what?!

Ok, it’s not like I’m recommending you pour some fermented grape juice into your Camelbak or chug a bottle post-ride like Gatorade.  Rather, I propose that many an outdoor experience will be enhanced when accompanied by wine with friends by the campfire or at the lodge later with dinner, in my opinion.  Wine is the literal down-to-earth drink whose flavors and structure reflect the micro and mesoclimates of the grapevines, with a little human process thrown in on the back end.  What better way to celebrate your homage to the outdoors and mother earth than to enjoy the fruits of its labor with your friends after a beautiful and enjoyable day?

Of more than 10 wines tasted over a 3-day weekend riding the Tsali mountain bike trails near Murphy, NC, here are the top 3 as voted by me and my friends in order of preference:rene-mure

2004 René Muré Riesling Tradition ($20) – From the Alsace region in France, this was light and crisp with a hint of vanilla and lemon on the nose.  On the palate, it was very refreshing and produced flavors of lemon, steel and mineral.  This wine was a dry Riesling, so put away those thoughts of the sweet, sugary German wines you had in your past.

2008 Stag’s Leap Amparo Rose ($20) – From Napa Valley and made from Grenache Noir, the popular southern Rhone varietal, this produced strawberries and rose petals on the nose.  The taste was light with some pear/apple citrus and plum, with a good balance of acid to make this also enjoyable on a hot summer afternoon.

2008 Domaine de Hauts de Sanziers ($12) – From the Saumur region of France, this wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.  The nose was light and had a high level of acid, but in a good way.  It produced notes of apples, pears, lemon, steel and minerals.

Honorable Mention: We didn’t pack any Chardonnay, but I would certainly recommend little-oaked or steel-barreled version from California or Burgundy.  A good example would be the 2006 Murphy Goode Chardonnay ($16) from Sonoma. mtn-bike

So, for your next road, bike or hiking trip to the great outdoors, be sure to pack a few bottles of vino for a relaxing evening and extend your outdoor experience.  Note: several reds were also tried from Pinot Noir to Petite Sirah that didn’t make the top 3.  Visit www.winetonite.com and I’ll list the entire lineup.

(Thanks to Ed Thralls of Wine Tonite for this post!)