This month, we’re heading outdoors with the best drinks for the backyard, beach, and beyond. In Take It Outside, we’re exploring our favorite local spots and far-flung destinations that make summer the ultimate season for elevated drinking.
Once the sunscreen and snacks are packed, beachgoers can turn their attention to that all-important beach bag essential: wine. There’s something especially festive about toasting summer with a wine glass, cup, or can in hand with toes in the sand.
Naturally, sommeliers have a few ideas on what pairs well with beachside adventures, so we polled somms on the best bottles and cans to stash in your beach bag this summer. Rosé is a go-to, though there is more to a quaffable pink than being light and easy-drinking — many rosés are keeping somms on their toes, offering vibrant aromas and interesting flavor profiles from “dry Hawaiian Punch” to “overripe red fruits.”
Sommeliers are making room for whites such as Chenin Blanc with racy acidity; and funky fresh orange wines in their totes, too. And abiding by the rule that “like pairs with like,” some pros are turning to salty, briny wines or looking to those produced in seaside winemaking regions.
Besides delivering on refreshment and flavor, beach wines tend to be food-friendly, too, whether they’re for supper on the patio or slurping oysters dockside. Wine experts take format into consideration, too, from value-driven, 1-liter bottles to portable 4-packs of canned wine spritzes.
From crushable rosés to zippy orange wines to fruit-forward whites, here are the expert picks.
The Best Wines For Your Beach Bag Recommended By Sommeliers:
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended wines!
“Sylvère Trichard’s ‘Séléné’ Beaujolais Rosé 2020. Though the rosé’s label channels tropical island vibes, the wine’s profile is reminiscent of a dry Hawaiian Punch. Watermelon rind, guava, and crushed cranberry fill the glass, but the palate is supported by a rocky minerality. ‘Séléné’ has a refreshing vibrancy and silky texture to enjoy in warm weather but can also be teamed with light fare like tuna tartare or grilled salmon while dining al fresco.” —Alisha Blackwell-Calvert, Sommelier and Independent Consultant, St. Louis
“Jaume Prats, Jaumet, Mallorca, Spain 2019. This is totally a poolside sipper. The flavor profile of it — zippy yet with notes of cantaloupe and honeydew with a tiny, tiny bit of spritz — just screams fun. It’s a field blend of Manto Negro, Fogoneu, Callet, Malvasia, Prensal, and Moscato, fermented with wild yeasts. Yes, it’s coming from a wine-growing region more known for its beaches, but I’d love for this to be served super chilled and drunk with a straw while on a brightly colored flamingo floatie!”—Paula de Pano, Beverage & Service Director, The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, N.C.
“2020 Darioush Napa Valley Viognier has been a go-to since I discovered it years ago, dining on the riverside patio of my favorite French restaurant in downtown Napa: Angèle. It has depth on the palate and a level of complexity that will satisfy the most discerning oenophile in your crew. Bursting with notes of white pear, peach, honeysuckle, and green strawberry, as well as hints of caramelized ginger, it brings a surprising sophistication to the poolside patio while remaining crisp and super refreshing.” —Brendan O’Donovan, Certified Sommelier, Napa, Calif.
“Andi Knauss La Boutanche Trollinger Rosé 2020. I discovered Andi’s wines at a Selection Massale portfolio tasting in NYC in 2019. His entire lineup is stunning, but these 1-liter bottles of rosé are perfect and affordable summer sippers. This is a great value wine that has enough depth to stand up to all kinds of BBQ and classic cookout foods. The overripe red fruits are countered with a perfect amount of brightness and zip for the ideal quench and pair extremely well with any grilled fish or baked oysters.”—Mary Ellen Amato, Bar Manager, Seabird, Wilmington, N.C.
“Quatre Routes Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine by Henri Poiron. This little golden nugget of a wine has that great tension between its ripe yellow fruits and flake sea-salt brine. Like a great taffy or peanut brittle, you gotta have a touch of salt with your sweet. The texture is lively which helps it go up against butter — the only addition I make to the blue crab I pull out of the water down at Edisto Beach. Crab meat and Muscadet equals summer love.”—Zoe Skinner, Wine Buyer, Post House and Basic Kitchen, Charleston, S.C.
“Roero Arneis by Cascina Chicco. I fell in love with the fact that ‘Arneis’ translates to ‘little rascal’ in Piemontese dialect. It’s a difficult little grape to grow. Roero is the [name of the] town/hills [in Piedmont, Italy,] so the designation includes both the name of the grape and place. This particular Roero Arneis is [reminiscent of] ripe Asian pears, honeysuckle, and little notes of cotton candy on the nose while being a dry, mineral-driven wine that has a green almond finish.”—Nicole Erica, Freelance Sommelier and Italian Wine Specialist, Wine Culture with Nicole, Baltimore
“My favorite, most drinkable summer wine would have to be the Gonzalez Bastias Naranjo skin contact orange wine from Chile. This wine is unfiltered and unrefined to deliver a light-medium body without holding all the residual sugar. There’s a particular minerality that shines and to me, that’s perfect for summer. This wine really feels like you’re cooling down as you bite into a piece of fruit.”—Jason Dumas, Bar Director, Palm & Pine, New Orleans
“Methode Sauvage ‘Moonstones’ San Benito County 2019. Moonstones has consistently wowed me with every bottle I open. Moonstones is a sprightly, zesty Chenin Blanc with racy acidity. And it tastes like the sea! Perfect for sipping in between dips in the ocean and washing down your oysters (everyone is bringing oysters to the beach, yes?), this wine is special enough to be the star of the beach day but not too precious to kick around in the sand.”—Kelsey Shaw, Sommelier and General Manager, Bayberry Garden, Providence, R.I.
“Ramona! I’m a big fan of the grapefruit [flavor], but the lemon and dry rosé are killer, too! Made from Italian white wine and organic grapefruit (or whatever flavor you pick), these refreshingly crisp spritzes are perfect for the beach or pool. They come in 4-can packs — cans are way better for the pool or beach as they chill faster, are easier to enjoy, and are simple to clean up compared to a bottle or glassware that can break.”—Simon Stilwell, Lead Sommelier and Beverage Director, Wild Common, Charleston, S.C.
“2018 Laurent Tribut Chablis. I was fortunate to taste it for the first time years ago, working at Frasca Food and Wine. I love the wines of Dauvissat, and Laurent Tribut married into the family. It’s crisp and refreshing but makes you want to go back to take another sip time and time again. This is classic, old-school Chardonnay from Chablis — lemon, citrus, tart apples, with salinity and a bit of flintiness. It’s great by itself but so amazing with light, fresh seafood.”—Jeremy Schwartz, Sommelier, Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colo.
“The best wine in my beach bag this summer is KC Labs’ semi-carbonic Zinfandel from Kivelstadt Cellars in Mendocino. It’s impressive that they took a grape which is known for making big, tannic, smoky wines and turned it into a light, fresh, and fruity wine that’s perfect with a slight chill to it. The partial carbonic maceration keeps the fruit extra juicy, and then it’s aged for a short time in neutral oak before it goes in the bottle with no filtration. The result is fun and easy-drinking but still manages to show off the complexity of their 70-year-old vines.”—Maxfield Clarke, Wine Director, Chasing Sage, Charleston, S.C.
“Huré Frères, L’Invitation, Champagne, France N.V. The Huré Frères L’Invitation is layered and elegant with a long finish. It exudes flavors and aromas of white peach, Mirabelle plum, and tart green apple with a touch of brioche on the finish. It is long and delicate with the tension that a Champagne lover expects in a wine. It’s about $40 a bottle, which is quite reasonable for such a delicious grower Champagne.” —Lindsey Fern, Wine Director, The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
“Boom Shucka Chenin. It’s light and crisp with beautiful aromas of melon and citrus. Chenin Blanc is a fantastic varietal because it has a lot of bright flavors and is easy to drink. Most people tend to lean toward a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc during a hot summer day, but a delicious Chenin Blanc would be a fun and interesting alternative. The label on this wine is also quite entertaining, as it portrays a group of people partying and playing by the beach.” —Nicky Geoffroy, Certified Sommelier and Assistant Manager, Rollers Wine & Spirits, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
“With its perfectly peachy hue and Provençal origins, Avaline Rosé is my summertime go-to. This classic blend of organically grown southern French varieties is transparently produced, vegan-friendly, and dry, making it easy to sip on at a backyard barbecue or by the pool. This rosé is layered with notes of cantaloupe, guava, summer peaches, and strawberry fields. Reminiscent of water recreation and beach naps, I love its balance of tropical fruit and ocean spray.” —Rania Zayyat, Sommelier, President and Founder, Lift Collective, Austin, Texas
“I’ve recently fallen back in love with Albariño from northwest Spain. It’s light, crisp, salty, and zippy. Bright citrus, lemongrass… perfect for summer. Early on in my sommelier days, I loved them because they were super affordable for high-quality versions and checked all the boxes for my high-acid-loving palate. Since then, I moved on to Loire Valley whites for that profile and only recently started coming back to [Albariños]. Recently my winemaker partner, Marc [Gagnon], blinded me [did a blind tasting] by the pool on a salty, sharp, crisp, and citrusy floral white: Albariño from the amazing producer Granbazan in Rias Baixas. For $22, it hits every single checkbox for summer drinking!”—Michael Kennedy, Sommelier and Founder, Component Wine Company and Vin Fraîche Wine Group, Napa, Calif.