5 Tricks for Picking the Perfect Wine for the Beach

May 25, 2016 | By | Comments (1)
USA, Massachusetts, Nantucket, Nantucket Island, Picnic basket and white wine on beach

Photo: Getty

Wine and the beach go together like … well, wine and the beach! Wine expert Sara Schneider picks perfect pairings for our recipes in the magazine, and today she shares some of her top tips for picking a wine you’re sure to love, every time.

Sara also selected a few special bottles for the Coastal Living Wine Club, which you can join here. See more details about the wine club below! 


1. What are your top three picks for beach wines?
My newest favorite beach wine is bright, refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, because I just had the chance in February (summer there), for the first time, to sip Sauv Blanc with my toes in the water on one of their stunning beaches!

New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs to try:
Villa Maria 2015 Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Sauvignon Blanc (Awatere Valley, Marlborough; $25)

Martinborough Vineyard 2015 “Te Tera” Sauvignon Blanc (Martinborough; $18)

Alkoomi 2014 Sèmillon/Sauvignon Blanc (Frankland River, Western Australia; available as part of the Coastal Living Wine Collection with Firstleaf)


2. Does seafood always have to be paired with white wine, or is that a misconception?
I doesn’t at all!  It’s generally harder to go wrong with the likes of shrimp, crab, and scallops with white. But it’s about how you season and cook the seafood, too.  If you slather Moroccan spices, say, on pungent salmon, you’re well into Pinot Noir territory. (Try Hawthorne Grove 2013 Pinot Noir from Monterey County, part of the Coastal Living Wine Collection.) And think about spicy, tomato-based seafood stew—a Sangiovese-based Chianti, with tangy acidity, bright red berry fruit, and earthy tomato-leaf notes, might be just the thing.


3. What flavor notes can an inexperienced palate most easily pick up on?
I think overt fruit flavors are what less experienced tasters can pick out—dark berries in Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance, or apple in Chardonnay. (Try Annabella 2013 Chardonnay from Napa Valley, part of the Coastal Living Wine Collection.) It’s not even too much of a stretch for most people to hone in even more than that on the fruit: Is it green, red, or golden apple? It’s a little harder to pick up on everything that’s not fruit in a wine—espresso, herbs, or that tomato-leaf thing I just mentioned.


4. How can inexperienced wine drinkers pick a bottle they’re likely to enjoy?
Two things. First, when you find yourself especially enjoying a wine you’re sipping, stop just long enough (short of bringing the conversation to a screeching halt) to think of a couple of words that seem true about it to you. Is it crisp? Does it have lots of aromatics (floral aromas, or peaches)? And just remember you like those things. Then, take those words to a wine shop. Really, you’re way more likely to end up with a bottle you like if you find a good wine clerk and tell him or her what you’ve liked in the past than choosing by label charm in a supermarket wine aisle where there’s no help.


5. What advice do you have relating to other favorite foods or tastes when it comes to picking wine?
Trust your instincts! If you’re a foodie, flavors register deeply. And when you see and smell a dish, wine can actually pop to mind! You might think, red fruit would be the right foil here, and it needs to be a spicy wine because of what I’m smelling … It’s a short path from novice to geek!

Ready to try your hand at picking new wines to drink at the beach? You can start by joining the Coastal Living Wine Club. Here’s how it works:

ORDER: For your first shipment, give our Coastal Living trial pack a try.

RATE: Next, rate the wines you receive so Firstleaf can tailor each subsequent shipment to your taste. (It’s like Pandora radio for wine.)

DECIDE: Based on your feedback, Firstleaf will recommend a personalized shipment of wines for you, but you can swap out individual bottles to your liking. You can also adjust wine preferences and shipping frequency, and choose the day the wine will arrive at your door.

SAVE: You save up to 60% off retail—$29.95 for this trial pack with an opt in to the Firstleaf Wine Club, or $44.95 for a single purchase of this trial pack.

GUARANTEED: If you’re not thrilled with any of the wines, Firstleaf will issue a refund.

Why Firstleaf?
Unlike other subscription-based wine clubs, Firstleaf gives you the opportunity to customize each and every order. As you rate the wines you receive, Firstleaf will tailor future selections to match your tastes. You can preview your wines before each shipment, swap out any bottle, and pick the delivery date and frequency. Best of all, Firstleaf sources directly from the vineyard and passes the savings on to you—up to 60% off retail.

Want to learn more about wine? You many also like:


  1. mjjmlaf

    Have been drinking and loving NZ sauvignon blanks for years and pairing them with seafood. Wonderful with cold raw oysters and grilled fish and shrimp! Glad you discovered them, too.

    June 30, 2016 at 7:05 am

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