You crave sun, sand and a chilled glass of Pouilly-Fuissé. But for the longest time, beach vacations have been automatically paired with icy-cold lagers and saccharine-sweet cocktails. From the Caribbean to Asia, many of the world’s most beautiful beaches have lacked a serious wine culture, and by default, good wine.
We’re here to declare the end of that era. As interest in food and beverage spreads, restaurants and hotels now offer better cellars and incorporate more local products. These international spots embody the phenomenon, and finally allow wine lovers to drink it all in from the world’s best sandy shores.
This Indonesian “Island of the Gods” has long attracted hippies, honeymooners and backpackers. But in truth, Bali offers something for all walks of life. Visitors can attend select spiritual ceremonies at Hindu temples, hike lush rice fields or rugged coastline and explore lengths of white powder and volcanic black sand. And all the while, wine lovers can experience the mix of bars and restaurants scattered throughout.
The greatest concentration of beach-front lodging lies in South Bali. Luxury brands like The Balé and St. Regis occupy the east coast in and around Nusa Dua, respectively. They each maintain extensive wine cellars. On the west coast, Seminyak’s tourism is driven by villas, boutique hotels and luxury nightlife.
Seminyak’s best people-watching and day-drinking take place from bean bag chairs at La Plancha, where bikini-clad guests are plied with chilled rosé, sangria or an assortment of well-made cocktails. At sunset, the crowd migrates to beachfront Ku De Ta. The venue has a surprisingly deep wine list that stems from its more formal, intimate restaurant, Mejekawi.
Walk up the beach to Jalan Petitenget walking street, a cultural institution full of bars, restaurants and boutique shops. There, La Lucciola, or “La Looch,” serves Italian fare in a romantic, open-air venue. For Balinese food and wine, book Bumbu Bali. Its short list includes local producer Hatten. Just off the beach, SIP Wine Bar does traditional French brasserie-style cuisine, while mini chain Vin+ Seminyak is both a bottle shop and lounge. The team behind Vin+ also owns Botanica, a restaurant and bar with Bali’s largest by-the-glass list.
For a respite from the beach, head inland to Ubud. Plunder one of the island’s best cellars at Bridges Bali or check out CasCades Restaurant, where a great collection of bubblies is always in stock. For the ultimate gastronomic/wine tour, don’t miss Blanco par Mandif for modern Indonesian and internationally acclaimed Mozaic Restaurant.
The South Fork of Long Island, New York
A summer playground of New Yorkers and international jetsetters, Long Island’s South Fork—and more specifically destinations considered the “Hamptons,” even if they stretch beyond the multiple towns that include that word—is home to some of America’s most expensive beachfront real estate. Though few establishments sit directly on the beach, the sand dunes of the Atlantic are never far from you and a glass of rosé.
First-timers may find the beach hopping frustrating, as residential permit requirements and excessive day-pass fees can be obnoxious. But not to worry: such hurdles are common among East Coast vacation spots and there are plenty of ways around them. The beaches are technically free; it’s only the car that requires a pass. So choose to walk, bike or catch the Hamptons Hopper shuttle. Otherwise, limited day passes can be purchased through town halls or chambers of commerce.
From quaint Sag Harbor to glitzier East Hampton, there are plenty of spots to enjoy wine. Out in Montauk, contemporary Mediterranean-influenced Arbor offers a succinct list organized by value and flights. Nearby, fill up on sunsets, superb food and rosé magnums on the sand at Navy Beach, or hang with the cool kids and enjoy a curated cocktail or top pour at the ubertrendy Surf Lodge.
Shelter Island’s Sunset Beach still throws the biggest toes-in-the-sand party along with an excellent bottle list that beefs up the obligatory rosé lineup.
The American Hotel in Sag Harbor is an elegant throwback, replete with a piano and award-winning wine cellar. For Italian wine and pasta in a pretty Southampton garden, try Tutto il Giorno by Gabby Karan de Felice, Donna Karan’s daughter. The Maidstone Hotel, an art- and design-forward spot in East Hampton, reignited its menu last year. And Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House stocks a surprising number of selections under $100.
No matter where you are on the South Fork, don’t forget to enjoy the local stuff. Wölffer Estate Vineyard, known for its seasonal supply of “summer water” (a.k.a rosé), owns locations of its Wölffer Kitchen restaurant, in Amagansett and Sag Harbor. Channing Daughters Winery near Sag Harbor experiments with textured whites and esoteric varieties, while Montauk Brewing Company offers a superb lineup of well-crafted sudsy options.
If you want to drink great wine in the Caribbean, pick an island in the French West Indies. With direct flights from both New York City and France, Martinique is a popular choice of Americans and Europeans alike. Its vibe is a tapestry of coastal Mediterranean and African influences; think classic French Riviera meets craggy shorelines and a vibrant cultural heritage.
More importantly, no matter where you are on the island, you’re just five minutes from sipping wine somewhere beautiful. On the east side, the French Coco hotel stocks some of France’s greatest hits from Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône. Across the island on the beach of Grande Anse d’Arlet, you can enjoy a solid by-the-glass list with your toes in the sand while on the shaded patio of Ti Sable restaurant. Less than a 20-minute drive from there is the palm-fringed shoreline of Anse-à-l’Ane, where you can crack open fresh langoustines while savoring a crisp white at Pignon Nouvelle Vague.
Some beaches in the north have black volcanic sand. Shell’s Beach Bar Restaurant in the northwest town of Case-Pilote supplies chaise lounges and drinks. Open-air Zanzibar Restaurant, in the south, emphasizes its French-Caribbean fare with a robust wine program, which includes an assortment of special selections on its La Cave Prestige list. Beachfront Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa accepts outside guests for wine-soaked lunches. Or go for the extreme: a Champagne-fueled St. Tropez beach club experience at Le Kano in Les Trois-Îlets.
While most tourists to the Caribbean skip the towns, Fort-de-France is full of delicious character. Get your French fix at 4 Senses wine bar, where you’ll find a selection of European products.
Inside Simon Hotel, Michelin-starred Chef Marcel Ravin helms La Table de Marcel. For a beach picnic of fine wine and foods, stop into Les Fines Bouches restaurant, which doubles as an attractive delicatessen.
Simple ambiance at Ô Vin sur Vingt in Le Lamentin belies the depth of its wine program. In Les Trois-Îlets, take in sweeping views with French-creole cuisine at Le Zandoli inside hilltop hotel La Suite Villa.
From movie stars to tour groups, all sorts know Mallorca as a dreamy island in Spain’s Balearic Islands. Its turquoise waters and wild beaches, backed by pine forests and mountains, still dazzle. Fortunately, the masses haven’t overloaded the island’s network of charming rural wineries and vineyards that dot the landscape. In addition to wine, crops like olives, almonds and apricots contribute local bounty to an assortment of tapas bars and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Beach lovers are spoiled for choice, with more than 200 sandy options. The chiringuito, or beach bar, at Cala Falcó Beach offers easy-drinking wines with grilled fish, and you can sip Cava from a sun bed at Cala Sa Nau Beach. If a festive beach club with bubbles is non-negotiable, book a lounger at Nikki Beach Mallorca.
You can also spend time amid the vines and collect Mallorcan wines made from indigenous grapes like Giró Blanc, Prensal Blanc and Manto Negro. Wineries to visit include Ànima Negra, Bodega Ribas, Mesquida Mora, Bodegas Macià Batle and Castell Miquel.
Spend a few nights in buzzy Palma de Mallorca, where the culture embraces late-night eating and drinking, especially during summer. In old town, casual Gaudeix cooks up classics like croquetas served with a good stock of Spanish wine. Sample from 40 glass options at La Vinya de Santa Clara, or ponder up to 2,500 selections at the splashy La Cabana Pool Bar & Lounge within Portals Hills Boutique Hotel.
Tast Culinary Projects is a local restaurant group with several venues, each perfect for a leisurely afternoon spent over island wines and tapas. At night, go star-gazing at Marc Fosh Restaurant, set inside Hotel Convent de la Missió, a 17th-century convent turned boutique hotel. Alternatively, head inland for mountain vistas and imaginative food. Restaurant Santi Taura in Lloseta does exquisite contemporary Ballearic cuisine, while Zaranda boasts two Michelin stars.