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It's worth it to bring your own wines to savor on beach vacation

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

For summer recreation in Western Pennsylvania, bike trails, fishing streams, swimming holes and softball fields see plenty of activity.

But summer family vacations frequently bring a trip to a favorite Atlantic coast beach.

Which raises a burning question — to lug or not to lug wine to the shore?

Eastern seaboard states generally enjoy the advantages of private wine and spirits sales. Prices for some wines can be lower, but not always.

With notable exceptions, however, depth of selection at retail wine shops along the shore often underwhelms. Shore-side merchants focus more closely on craft beer, vodka and gin choices rather than wine. Potable, yet mundane, mass-produced wines — often in jugs — line retail shelves.

Play it safe to ensure enjoying well-made versatile wines. Take wine with you, but be sure not to coop it up in a sweltering vehicle along the way.

Visiting the beach means seafood. Oysters and clams pair well with the 2013 Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet, France (luxury 33316; Chairman's Selection on Sale: $9.99).

Hailing from France's southern Languedoc region, locals and tourists alike drink Picpoul de Pinet with gusto to wash down bounteous plates of fresh seafood. Guests at restaurants such as La Grotte aux Coquillages in Cap-d'Agde sit at tables opening directly to the harbor, sandy beaches and the blue Mediterranean Sea.

A local cooperative produces this delightfully crisp white from picpoul grapes grown near the water. The vineyards unfurl on a mainly chalky, clay plateau rich in Cretaceous quartz and gravel dating from the Jurassic Period. The plateau slopes down to Lake Thau, which serves as a buffer from often-forceful maritime breezes and temperature extremes.

The soils and breezes allow the grapes to retain bracing, fresh acidity even as consistently hot daytime temperatures ensure proper ripening. Low rainfall and Tramontane winds off nearby mountains help to keep the fruit healthy and undamaged.

The wine's light-yellow color offers citrus and white-flower aromas with light, smoky notes. Fermentation in stainless steel captures refreshing citrus and quince flavors with zesty, lip-smacking acidity balancing a dry, fruity finish. Highly recommended.

With delicate soft-shell sandwiches, refreshing rosé wines make a delightful partner.

The 2013 Château Montaud Côtes de Provence Rosé, France (luxury 45001; $12.99) delivers a classic rendition of the vin gris thirst quencher. After crushing harvested red-skinned grapes, the juice rests only briefly on the skins before gentle pressing.

The resulting light pink, “onion skin” color delights the eye. Enticing berry and floral aromas lead to ripe berry and citrus flavors. Crisp acidity and refreshing mineral notes frame the dry and fruity finish that lingers beautifully. Recommended.

No trip to the beach could be complete without enjoying grilled hot dogs, burgers and maybe a steak or two. Pair them with the tasty 2012 Colosi Nero D'Avola, Sicily, Italy (7872; On sale: $12.99).

“Nero” meaning “black” refers to the grape's dark skin, while Avola refers to the village in southern Sicily where the grape originated. Locals also call the grape “Calabrese” because the vines possibly originally came from across the sea in Calabria. Today, Nero d'Avola vines appear widely in Sicily's limestone and volcanic soils enveloped by a classic Mediterranean climate.

The wine's purple color offers robust black-fruit aromas with spicy black-pepper notes. Ripe black-berry and plum flavors leap from the glass unhindered by oak. Bright acidity and firm tannins frame this truly quaffable red wine's ripe, fruity finish with spicy hints. Recommended.

Dave DeSimone writes about wine for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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