The 6 Best Types of Wine for Boating & Sailing (+ Serving Tips)

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Group of people enjoying sparkling wine on a lake at sunsetIt's that time of year when the clouds retreat and give way to early morning sun, all-day laughter, and fresh sea spray. Whether you're on the lake or open ocean, there's no feeling like the wind whipping through your hair as you speed into the distance. As water sprays across your face, you feel your cares and worries fall far behind you. 

While a full-bodied cabernet or zinfandel is great for a steak dinner at the end of the day, for a day on deck it's best to bring wines that will refresh and cool you. Crisp summer wines are a delight on a hot day, especially out on the water. Their citrus and green apple zest quench thirst while offering a reprieve from the summer heat. Here are six types of wine that are excellent choices for your boating activities, or for any time this summer.

The 6 Best Types of Wine for Boats

While every palate is different, there are a few consistencies when searching out the best summer wines. Summer wines need to quench your thirst and be light enough to last the whole day. Wines that are light on tannins and alcohol, with a focus on fruit and acid are perfect for summer activities. Fruity doesn't mean sweet; a dry rosé or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc can be a fantastic choice for a day on the water. 

Whatever boat wine you choose, make sure it's one you can enjoy in warm weather. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is lovely all year, but particularly so in summer. These wines are fantastic chilled, keeping you cool while you sip and enjoy the sound of lapping waves. Pinot Grigio offers flavors of tropical fruits and refreshing acidity, making an excellent pairing for a mid-day seafood snack of raw oysters and mignonette.

2. Sauvignon Blanc

If you're looking for something similar to Pinot Grigio but with more aroma, step up to a Sauvignon Blanc. Though similar in body to Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc offers more citrus and herbs on the nose, building anticipation for this stimulating dry white wine. Try an old-world  Sauvignon Blanc from France, and you'll feel like you're anchored off the coast of Cannes.

3. Chardonnay

Yes, Chardonnay makes it onto every list of best summer wines, but the kind of Chardonnay you choose says something about your palate. For instance, Chardonnay from Chablis in the Burgundy region of France is likely to be sophisticated, but it's also an exquisite sailboat wine choice. 

Chablis is pure chardonnay — literally. No other grape is grown there, and the fermentation process is curated to preserve the purity of the fruit. Chablis doesn't seek to add oaky or tropical notes, just crisp fruit and a minerality that will revive your love for this eternally popular grape.

4. Beaujolais

If you have trouble letting go of your red wine, a light Beaujolais can be a perfect boat wine. Beaujolais wines are soft and low on tannins, so they won't dry out your palate on a hot day. Beaujolais wines are also fruity without being overly sweet. They're great slightly chilled, helping you cool off in the summer sun without sacrificing your need for the rich fruit flavors of red wine.

5. Sparkling Wine

Whether it's officially from the Champagne region or not, sparkling wines are probably THE iconic boat wine. The best part of drinking sparkling wine on a boat is that you really can't go wrong. Dry or sweet, enjoying a glass of chilled bubbles on the deck feels like the embodiment of a luxurious vacation.

6. Rosé

Rosé is another of those wines that personify summertime pleasures. It marries the lightness and acidity of white wine with the versatile complexity of some of your favorite reds. Rosé is one of those types of wine that somehow is both wildly popular yet still underrated

Rosé is available as both a table (aka "flat") or sparkling wine, offering you twice the variety of choices. Speaking of variety, rosés not only run the gamut between dry and sweet, but it also varies in shades of pink based on the type of grapes used and the production process. All this nuance between different rosé wines makes it an excellent conversation starter when lounging with friends as the water laps beneath your boat.

A Few Tips for Serving Wine on a Boat

While wine service doesn't completely change aboard a vessel, a few things should be considered to get the most out of your experience.

1. Ensure Proper Temperature

Every boat is different, so whether you have access to a refrigerator or a cooler, check for the best serving temperature and make preparations to hold your wine there. A cool, crisp glass is far more enjoyable on a summer day than a warm glass of Champagne.

2. Bring Proper Glassware

Though glass can be a bit hazardous on a boat (think broken glass plus bare feet), should you decide to bring glassware bring something that helps avoid another hazard of drinking on a boat: spillage. 

Champagne flutes look great in a picture, but it only takes a slight jostle to splash the contents. Instead, consider using a regular wine glass. These are not only a versatile choice for the best summer wines, but they're also quickly becoming the preferred choice of many sparkling wine drinkers. You may also opt for stemless glassware, which comes in both glass and reusable plastic varieties.

3. Bring Something to Pair With Your Boat Wine

It's not only wise to consume food while drinking; it also elevates your experience. Before you leave dock, consider bringing aboard a bag of fresh oysters, chilled seafood, or fresh fruit. Oysters can be shucked right on board and pair perfectly with chilled summer wines. After all, you're drifting off into paradise, so you may as well indulge in all the delights.

Find Your Perfect Boat Wine 

Are you preparing your summer plans on the water and want to make sure you have the ideal boat wine? JJ Buckley offers some of the finest summer wines from around the world. Our cellar is curated for the refined palate that seeks a wine that will elevate the experience of connoisseurship.

Not sure what you need? Our wine consultation experts are here to help you with your summer wine selection so that you can get the most out of your days on the open water.