There is nothing like being on a beach on a hot day, especially when you have gorgeous mountain views!
Finding a nice beach wine is not hard. But there are a few key characteristics I look for in a beach sipper:
1. High acidity
Acidity is the mouth-watering aspect of a wine, and is what makes you salivate even after the wine has left your mouth. High-acidity wines can be described as zippy or refreshing, and are great palate cleansers. Both reds and whites can be acidic, however for a beach day, my preference would be a white or rosé – something refreshing and light.
2. Low alcohol content
In general, the more body a wine has, the higher its alcohol content. That is why the fullest-bodied wines like cabernet sauvignon and shiraz tend to be higher in alcohol. On the other hand, lighter-bodied whites tend to have a lower alcohol content. And that’s the sort of easy drinking I’m looking for in a beach wine. I don’t like to dehydrate too quickly under the sun!
3. Twist-off cap
This may be shocking to some of you, but despite being a wine snob, I don’t carry a corkscrew around with me at all times. There are enough things to remember when packing for the beach: bathing suits, towels, hats, sunscreen, cooler, snacks, glasses, dishes, etc. When choosing your wine, think ahead and save yourself some trouble by getting a wine with a twist-off cap. It will facilitate matters significantly. I’ve witnessed people trying to get a cork out without the proper tools and it is not pretty. Add a beach to the mix and you will invariably end up with bits of cork and lots of sand in your wine. Not really the smooth mouthfeel I’m looking for…
Of course, personal preferences will come into play here, including price point and sweetness. In the lower range for price, an excellent value beach wine and excellent summer go-to is the Portuguese vinho verde. This slightly effervescent wine is incredibly refreshing, with the bubbles magnifying the already high acidity. I found this great vinho in Vancouver and it’s what I drank on our beach day:
In Canada, this particular bottle only seems to be available in B.C., so here are some you can get from the LCBO:
- Aveleda – tried, tested and true for under $10!!
- Gazela – I haven’t personally tried this one, but I hear that for $9, you really can’t go wrong!
This wine is generally dry, so if you’re looking for something sweeter, try an off-dry riesling or a moscato.
Rosés are also great on a hot summer’s day. A lot of people tell me that they don’t like rosés because they are too sweet, but we’re not talking about those ridiculously sweet pretty-pink zinfandels from Beringer that we drank in first year in our failed attempts to be sophisticated. Today, I can attest that there are a myriad of rosés to suit all tastes, ranging from extra-dry to sweet. I personally love rosés from the south of France, but I may be biased. They smell of fresh strawberries and raspberries and their refreshing acidity makes me feel like I am sitting in the shade of an olive tree with a view of Mont Ste. Victoire. My favourite appellations are Bandol and Tavel, so those may be a good place to start, but I encourage you to just get a bunch of bottles, invite some friends over, and taste a few to find your favourite!
Enjoy! And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
P.S. Just because this post is entitled “Beach Wining”, the consumption of the wines discussed herein is not strictly restricted to beach locales. “Beach” can easily be replaced with “Boat,” “Backyard,” “Patio,” “non-air-conditioned apartment” or anywhere else where a cool, refreshing wine is required.