~ by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits ~
There is no doubt that Nantucket has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the world. For those of you who come to visit the Grey Lady and others who live here year-round, there is comfort in knowing that you are surrounded entirely by a sandy coastline that evokes a sense of calmness and serenity.
Your favorite spots on the sand deserve a bottle of rosé wine in hand, resulting in the perfect summertime blend. This pairing of these two equally important parts of the equation will create an elevated, memorable experience of your time here on the island. Remember to bring your Govino wine glasses (reusable, recyclable and shatterproof drink ware) and a wine opener with you as you embark on this Nantucket Rosé Roadshow.
THE CHEAP + CHEERFUL ROUTE
If you arrived on Nantucket via ferry, you have most likely seen the Brant Point Lighthouse: the welcoming beacon to this magical island. While this may not be the absolute closest beach within walking distance to town, the scene around Brant Point makes it worthwhile to walk the extra seven minutes to experience the sights and sounds that abound here. Upon arrival, you immediately start to feel at ease as you watch the boats peacefully come in and out of the harbor. Local fishermen line the shore in hopes of reeling in their personal catch of the day.
The perfect Rosé pairing for this not-so-serious-of-a-commitment beach adventure calls for a wine that matches the highlights of this locale. Easy access, not too complicated, and happy-go-lucky, yet exciting enough that you will take that obligatory selfie to share with the world that you made it to a beach on Nantucket. With no lifeguards on duty or facilities and heavy boat traffic here, there is no need to linger longer than necessary, and swimming is not recommended.
Recommended Rosé: Laroche de la Chevalière, Pays d’Oc 2015 (70% Grenache, 30% Syrah) – Located in the heart of the Languedoc, this wine is perfect for the beach, sitting on the dock, or when you need just one more glass. This light, refreshing wine with hints of raspberry and cranberry has a convenient screw-top closure.
Locals and tourists alike swarm to find their way to Steps Beach just before dusk in order to catch the spectacular sunsets. This beach is located on the North Shore of the island and most easily accessible by walking left past Galley Beach. The other option to gain access to this beach, and its namesake, is located just off Cliff Road where you must descend many steps to get to the beach and ascend them again when you leave. Here you encounter lovely views of Nantucket sound as you listen to the sound of the waves lapping at your feet while walking along the water’s edge. Photos never do the sunset scenery the justice it deserves and is best experienced first hand.
While it is exhilarating to watch the sun fall into the water (think of the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve), the best part of the sunset is the afterglow. Similar to this is the soignée selection of an exclusive Rosé Champagne where you love to hear the sound of the cork popping, but even more so listening to the sparkling wine sing as it is poured into your drinking vessel and then watch the entertainment at length of the bubbles dancing the night away.
Recommended Rosé: Ernest Remy Rosé de Saignée Grand Cru Brut Champagne NV – The brilliant currant color with rich red berry flavors of strawberry and raspberry is delivered with the finest of small bubbles and just longing for a memorable occasion.
Heading over to the south shore of Nantucket Island, you are greeted with larger waves, stronger currents and cooler waters than what is found along the calmer, shallower north shore waters. While there are numerous beaches to choose from here, on the western side of the south shore is the not-toohard- to-reach Cisco Beach. This coming of age beach has a loyal and popular following with surfers, young adults and their ilk who long to create their own version of The Endless Summer.
If you happen to be new to the island and are not familiar with the beach just yet, you may have heard of our hometown local brewery of the same name that is located within close proximity to its namesake beach. Even better, they also make wine at this facility under the name of Nantucket Vineyards. Although the grapes aren’t native (born here), the wine is a wash-ashore creation worthy of your attention.
Recommended Rosé: Nantucket Vineyard Sparkling Cranberry Pinot Gris. This tart rosé infused with local cranberries is the hippest way to celebrate summer on the beach and also as gifts for the dog walker, co-workers, and your mother-in-law who is watching your kids.
The feel of the silky, soft sand of this pristine beach in your toes and being able to view the isolated lighthouse at the other end make the long journey along this narrow waterway well worth it to reach Great Point. Access to this remote area is only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle, a skillful designated driver, and a special over-sand beach permit that can be purchased at the Gate House entrance.
Navigating the distance to this remote coastline past the Wauwinet is paired best with a magnum size bottle of a rosé wine that also goes the distance. This scenario requires a wine of great commitment, one for the more serious wine connoisseur. A large format bottle would also be most apropos to avoid the risk of depleting your beverage rations during the lengthy trek. It’s a long way back to civilization and there is no cell service out there in order to call for a delivery of wine reinforcements.
Recommended Rosé: Chateau Peyrassol, Côtes de Provence 2015 en Magnum (1.5L) – The hardest beach to get to on the island deserves to be paired with one of the most challenging of wines to get your hands on, especially in large format. This elite cuvée of the estate comes from the oldest vines on the property and is an elegant, crisp, dry expression of a wine with character and concentration.
No matter where your Rosé Roadshow takes you on or off the beaten path, please remember to respect Nantucket’s fragile environment and the beauty of our island. Clean up your litter, respect private property, and use only designated entry points. If you are in need of guidance to help select a memorable rosé wine pairing with your other favorite Nantucket beaches, be sure to seek the advice of an expert Sommelier at your local bottle shop to make the most of your experience.