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Blog #6: Toes in the sand and wine in my hand…

Wines perfect for the beach: Part 2

My favorite place in the world is on the beach. I’ve always felt at home there, even as a small child. Childhood memories of sleeping on the beach, waking up to the sound of the waves is forever embedded in my memories. As an adult, the beach experience is even better with a beautiful glass of cold white wine in my hand. I’d like to share my top picks for beach time:

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is one of my favorite French white wines. Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine is made solely from Melon de Bourgogne, a grape variety brought to the western Loire from Burgundy, as the name suggests. The similarity between the name Muscadet and that of the Muscat variety is sometimes a cause of confusion. This wine is nothing like sweet Muscat wine!

This wine is known for its minerality for two good reasons: the proximity to the ocean and the soil. The vineyards are located between the Sèvre and the Maine, the two last tributaries of the Loire River before it reaches the ocean. Alluvial soil types have led to an abundance of potassium, magnesium and calcium deposits, providing the vines with the minerals.

In wine jargon, the minerality flavor is often described as wet stone. The finish has a salinity that reminds you of the ocean. And oh, my goodness, this is the perfect wine to pair with seafood.


Albariño wine (“alba-reen-yo”) is a high-quality, light-bodied white that I call a “dangerous” wine because I tend to not realize how much I have consumed! It is so very refreshing. The freshness comes from its high acidity so people who love a crisp zesty wine with a lot of personality like Sauvignon Blanc will love Albariño.

There are two main areas where Albariño can be found: Rías Baixas in the northwest corner of Spain, and Vinho Verde in Portugal (where it’s called Alvarinho).

As a former chemist, I am intrigued with the chemistry of the nose of this wine: the aromatic compounds called terpenes and thiols give rise to aromas of lemons, limes, pear, grapefruit, honeysuckle, nectarine, and occasionally orange zest and beeswax (as it warms), supported by subtle smells of wet stone.

On the palate, the crispness and acidity stand out quickly and finishes with a bit of salinity and tang that some might say is bitter but I thoroughly enjoy.

Because of all these characteristics, it too is perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes, especially shrimp tacos with lime aioli sauce. My personal beachfront chef is an expert at making shrimp tacos for me!


I love introducing people to the Vermentino (“vur-men-teeno”) variety: they wonder why they have not come across this wine before. Once they taste it, they are hooked. But finding it is not always easy. It is not grocery store wine. A light-bodied white wine, it can be deliciously complex in taste and is similar in style to Sauvignon Blanc.

Vermentino wines today are grown in both Old and New World regions. The Vermentino grape is known as Rolle throughout Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon in Southeastern France. It’s also grown extensively throughout Italy, within Galura, Liguria, Piedmont and the neighboring Italian islands of Corsica and Sardinia (Sardegna). In these maritime areas, the grape can grow at elevation and in calcareous soil while being complimented by salty sea breezes providing refreshing acidity and chalky minerality.

In the New World, producers based in both Lodi, California, along with those located in the up-and-coming region of the Texas Hill Country are both producing refined and expressive Vermentino varietal wines.

Despite the typical light-bodied character of Vermentino, it’s quite complex to taste. This is because Vermentino has higher levels of phenols which contribute to its subtle bitterness on the finish–a taste often described as green almond. Vermentino will offer up lively aromas of pear, white peach, lime and pink grapefruit with subtle notes of crushed rocks and citrus zest. On the palate, Vermentino is almost always dry and somewhat oily with flavors of grapefruit and citrus, with a crushed rocky minerality and saltiness. On the finish, it can be a bit snappy with bitterness similar to the taste of grapefruit pith or, if it’s on the riper side, fresh almond. Pair this wonderful wine with scallop and crab dishes.

I hope you will seek these grape varieties in your wine tasting journey. And remember, life and wine are better at the beach!