“It’s actually in pretty good shape for being 34 years old,” says Sommelier Steven Grubbs, of Empire State South in Atlanta, referring to his vintage sailboat. “But there are so many shi**y boats on our dock that I'm always reminded of that Jimmy Buffett cover from Living and Dying in ¾ Time.” It may seem an unlikely setting for enjoying a mixed case of wine, and, he argues, that's precisely why it's so perfect.
Traditionally, Grubbs and his friends would procure cans of beer when planning a day out on the lake, and they keep a few bottles of rum stashed on board as the ‘house beverage.’ Then one day last season, he threw a bottle of Lustau Manzanilla Sherry into the mix to see if it could be equally as thirst-quenching for the boating crowd. “So here we were, slugging Manzanilla out of the bottle and eating snacks,” he says, “and it blew my mind that you could be on a lake, drinking wine that tastes like the ocean and have that transportative feeling of actually being on the ocean. Everybody went crazy over it.”
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He’s since upped his game in terms of the selection of wines he brings on board, but he notes that there are certain rules. “Bringing expensive bottles doesn’t make sense, and one doesn’t go sailing with Zalto glasses, either,” he says. “You’re probably drinking out of a vessel that’s not ideal, so you don’t want the wines to be the most complex you can find, but acidity is crucial, because you want them to have a delicious, refreshing character.”