For me, one of the best ways to enjoy the ocean is to camp out on an oceanfront balcony or beach chair, toes burrowed into the sand, wineglass in my hand.
Wine, of course, no matter the hue or vintage, is notoriously prone to temperature and humidity, which of course, includes anyplace that touches salt water.
So I asked a few experts about the best ways to store and preserve wine at the ocean.
*From Sara Kavanaugh, sommelier at the Grill Room in the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans: “It doesn’t matter where you are in relation to the ocean as long as your wine is kept in a cellar between 52-56 degrees Fahrenheit in a non-moving dark place. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a wine cellar on the premises, your best bet is to put your wines in the refrigerator and take them out before consumption to allow them to rise to the desired temperature,” she advises. “For older, more fragile wine, it’s typically in your best interest to buy a small wine cooler and store wines there. Put a thermometer in and periodically check the temperature to ensure it is not fluctuating drastically.”
*From Gerri-Lynn Becker, Director of Operations at The California Wine Club: “Don’t store an open bottle with the cork popped back in on the counter; instead, put it in the fridge. For unopened wines and long-term storage, a cool dark place is still best.”
*Laura Mohseni of Riverbench Vineyard and Winery in Santa Maria, California, believes that salt air really does make crisp whites or rosés taste all that much better; she compares it to when you get hungrier just by being on the beach. However, she advises that besides carefully tending the wine, you also keep an eye on the glassware. “A light film tends to form on glassware stored near an ocean,” she says. “I’ve found that a shot of white vinegar added to the dishwasher rinse cycle or the water you use to rinse your glasses when you handwash them will help. Additionally, it’s best to dry the glassware by hand right after washing to prevent buildup.” One last tip: “It’s always best to store wine on its side and out of direct sunlight. People like to keep their wine on top of the fridge, but it’s too hot there!”
*Lastly, Jesse Rodriguez, sommelier and director of wine at the Addison at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, has a cautionary tale about how ocean air can affect the outside of a wine bottle: “When the restaurant first opened, it became evident that the marine layer affected the humidity inside the wine cellars. We noticed that the labels on the bottles started to bubble up and fall off. We added thick weatherstripping on all the doors and windows in Addison, as well as those leading to the wine cellar, and since then, we haven’t had any problems.”