Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

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https://www.newsday.com/

https://paper.newsday.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=b162131d-f983-4571-8d34-226583242f16&pnum=1

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Newsday ran a nice little piece, “Perfect Pairings,” about wine and food pairings. But they missed an opportunity, which Nofowineaux will attempt to remedy.  For example, they mentioned Peconic Bay oysters, but not the Long Island wines one could drink with them.  So what follows is my own list of the foods and types of wines they mentioned, updated with my own recommendations of local wines to use.

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We get a new red-wine-friendly glass with the reds.

  1. Roast chicken

Newsday says have pinot noir or an oaked chardonnay.  I say, try Castello Borghese’s or McCall’s pinot noir, or Castello’s oaked chardonnay.

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  1. Pasta with a Bolognese sauce

Chianti would be perfect, of course, and it is made with the sangiovese grape, which is found on Long Island in a few places.  Try the sangiovese from Pugliese, or the Meritage from Laurel Lake, a blend that includes sangiovese.

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The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Lobster

They say a steel fermented chardonnay or a rosé.  Of course, as soon as I hear rosé, I think of Croteaux, which has lovely dry Provençal-style rosés.  For a steel chard, my favorite is Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

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  1. Chicken Tikka Masala

Aside from my own kitchen, I don’t know anywhere on the North Fork to get Indian food.  When I make Indian food (as I did last night, making curried cauliflower and cucumber raita), I like to pair it with a slightly sweet white, which is also what Newsday suggests.  They say use a gewürztraminer, and you have three good options on the North Fork:  Osprey’s Dominion, Coffee Pot Cellars, or, my preference, One Woman.  We drank Meditazione from Channing Daughters, a delicious orange wine made from a blend that includes gewürztraminer.

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  1. Roasted White Fish

There are lots of good options for white fish fillets at Braun’s, and there’s almost always cod.  Newsday suggests a sauvignon blanc.  Almost every winery has a drinkable sauvignon blanc, but I prefer Channing Daughters to most of the others.  It is nicely dry, but has enough fruit to give it taste.  Other good ones: Diliberto’s, Duck Walk, Clovis Point, and Coffee Pot Cellars.

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  1. Rib-Eye Steak

Two sources of good beef are Wayside Market and 8 Hands (though 8 Hands doesn’t always have beef—check their web page or call before you go).  As to wines, Newsday recommends either a cabernet sauvignon or a sparkling wine (and many people believe sparkling wines go with everything).  Big reds are in short supply on the North Fork, but Laurel Lake has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that’s pretty good.  Sparkling Pointe, of course, only makes sparkling wines.  Their Brut Magnum is lovely, but if you don’t care to buy a huge bottle you could try Roanoke Vineyard’s sparkling wine.

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The sparkler and the chard

  1. Oysters

In general, I like sauvignon blancs with oysters.  I find the lemony taste of the wine complements the bivalves very nicely.  They suggest a Muscadet or a sparkling wine.  You might try the Sherwood House blanc de blancs, or one of the above suggestions.

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  1. Cauliflower Steak

As Newsday notes in its article, it is often hard to pair wine and vegetables.  They suggest a grüner veltliner with this dish, and I agree.  One Woman makes a grüner that is one of my favorite North Fork whites.

As with all suggested wine and food pairings, personal taste is paramount.  If you just don’t like red wines or white wines (but why?), just go with what you like.  A light red can go with fish or chicken, and a heavy white, like an oaked chardonnay, can go with meats.  However, I can’t picture having any white with steak.  Instead, have a beer! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Osprey’s Dominion: Reasonable Wines, Reasonable Prices 2/7/15

http://ospreysdominion.com/tasting-room/

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The snow was piled high but the roads were clear.

The last time we were at Osprey’s, in April of 2013, we felt somewhat neglected, as our server abandoned us to cater to a group of women who came in midway through our tasting.  This time we had the room almost to ourselves, but again we were not impressed with the service.  Our server briefly outlined the menu choices, but then offered no suggestions how to choose amongst the many offerings and only minimal (unless we asked questions, no more than what was on the menu) information on each wine.  That’s too bad, as the winery has some interesting wines at quite reasonable—for Long Island—prices.

Osprey’s tasting room is quite large, and is well set up to accommodate crowds, though on this cold February day we shared it with a couple unpacking a picnic lunch at one table and only a few others at the bar.  The musician—an accomplished singer and guitarist, playing James Taylor and Eagles standards—felt quite lonely until, just as we were leaving, a party of about a dozen women arrived.  You can also find a good selection of wine-related gifts.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

The musician is way down at the far end of the room.

Plenty of gift options

Plenty of gift options

In a nod to Valentine’s Day, one of the three menus offered a chocolate pairing of four wines and chocolates for $18.  Another let you try four of their high-end reds for $15, while the main menu let you choose any five wines for $8.  We chose the latter option, but our work was not done.  The two-sided list includes 12 whites and nine reds, plus a few dessert wines and a sparkling wine.  After a long discussion—which our server left us alone to have—we decided to do five whites and five reds, sharing each taste as we went.  Oh, and they also have Greenport Harbor ale on tap.

  1. 2012 Fumé Blanc             $18

Why Fumé, we ask our server about this wine made from sauvignon blanc grapes.  Oh, she says, because being in oak gives it a bit of a smoky taste.  We sniff, and agree on an asparagus smell.  The wine itself is interesting, dry, but with fruit I categorize as gooseberry (to confirm, the next time I see gooseberries at Briermere I’ll buy them so we can discuss the taste) and some complexity.  We like it, and agree that it is quite sippable.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

The Regina Maris label features a picture of the Regina Maris.

  1. Regina Maris Chardonnay $13

Why Regina Maris, we ask.  It’s a famous ship in Greenport, she says.  The bottle calls it a “special commemorative” wine, but we don’t know why.  This is a 50% oak and 50% steel-fermented chard, with a nice ripe pineapple aroma.  The taste is a bit disappointing, somewhat evanescent with front of the mouth sweetness and not much else.

  1. 2012 Reserve Chardonnay $20

We decide to try another chard as a comparison, and choose the reserve.  Too much oak for our taste, we agree, though the wine is so cold perhaps some subtlety is lost.  The aroma is nice—nutmeg and bitter orange, some vanilla.  I taste something pineapple at the end.  Just okay.

  1. 2011 Gewürztraminer $15

If you’re looking for a wine to have with next Thanksgiving’s turkey, this would be a good choice.  We smell ginger, sweet orange blossoms, and a not-unpleasant touch of wet fern.  There’s some vegetable taste, and it is nicely dry.

The Edzelwicker

The Edzelwicker

  1. 2011 “White Flight” Edzelwicker $15

I’m intrigued by this one, a blend of 87% pinot gris, 8% gewürztraminer, and 5% riesling.  Why the name?  It’s from Alsace, we are told, and means noble blend.  The aroma is interesting, too—bread dough, peach, hard candy.  The taste is not quite as exciting, but it is good, dry, but with good fruit tastes.  I think it would go really well with brie, even though I usually like red wines with cheeses.

  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $12

Now we move on to the reds, and we are given a clean glass.  Where is Richmond Creek?  Right across the street, she says.  This is a Left Bank Bordeaux blend, 47% cabernet sauvignon, 11% pinot noir, 20% cabernet franc, and 23% merlot.  We’re looking for an inexpensive wine for everyday drinking, which is why we decided to taste this one.  We smell plum, eucalyptus, and forest floor.  The wine tastes okay, with some sweetness, though overall it is a bit flat.  It wouldn’t stand up to highly seasoned food.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

The Meritage is quite dark in color.

  1. 2007 Meritage “Flight”                                $24

Another blend, this time it’s of 67% merlot, 25% carmenere, and 8% cabernet franc.  We love its dark color and fruity aroma.  The taste is pleasant, mostly cherry, and less complex than one would expect, with some tannins.

  1. 2012 Pinot Noir $40

Cheracol  cough syrup I exclaim when I sniff this wine, to which I add, also cinnamon.  Swirl.  Legs.  Cherry flavor.  Very nice, though perhaps not $40 nice.  People would like it, opines my husband.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

The label of the Carmenere explains the grape.

  1. 2011 Carmenere $35

Wow, we really like this.  If we were looking for more reds for the wine cellar, we’d get this one.  Aromas of spice, cedar and fennel precede tastes of ripe dark fruits—sweet purple plums, perhaps—plus some tannins.  The grape has an interesting history, as it was apparently a lost and forgotten French variety that was rediscovered growing in Chile.  Osprey is the only winery on Long Island to grow carmenere, another server tells us, when I tell him it’s my favorite of the day.

  1. 2010 Malbec $24 (two for $40, a January special)

2010 was a good year on the North Fork, so we have high expectations for this wine, and we are not disappointed.  The grape is from the Cahors region of France, we are told.  Argentinian wines often use malbec grapes, but this wine is softer than I remember Argentinian malbecs to be.  My husband insists that it smells like Craisins.  Could be.  I taste dried fruit and spice and I really like it.  At $20 a bottle, it’s a good buy, so we get two bottles.  (Just before we tasted this one, a bowl of crackers arrived on the bar.)

They'll make custom labels for you.

They’ll make custom labels for you.

Reasons to visit:  reasonably good wines for reasonable prices; some interesting varietals and blends you won’t find elsewhere on the North Fork; the Fumé Blanc, the Gewürztraminer, the Edzelwicker, the Carmenere, the Malbec;  you may bring a picnic (something many wineries don’t allow); good selection of gifts; a nice large room for a group.

osprey chalk board

Osprey sign

Sparkling Pointe August 25, 2013

http://www.sparklingpointe.com/

Sparkling

It seemed appropriate on a sparkling August day, after several hours watching the sun sparkling on the water, to check out Sparkling Pointe winery, where they specialize in sparkling wine.  And a good choice it was.  Using the Méthode Champenoise to make authentic champagne-style wines (which can’t actually be called champagne because only wines from the Champagne region of France can legally bear that title), they have taken Long Island grapes into the realm of luxury wines.

The bright and airy tasting room leads out to a spacious patio area, which they need, since they often get van and busloads of visitors, as we have noted as we have driven by.  Just as Croteaux evokes France and Diliberto evokes Italy, Sparkling Pointe evokes Brazil, featuring Bossa Nova nights and paintings of Rio in its tasting room.  According to a server on a previous visit, the owners happen to “love the culture” of Brazil.  The winery also tries to promote an air of elegance, with crystal chandeliers on the ceiling and caviar on the fairly extensive snack menu. Once, when we came on Halloween, all the servers were in fancy dress, either tuxedos or ball gowns.  The snack menu, which needs to be somewhat extensive since they have a note on the door politely informing guests that they no longer allow outside food, also includes charcuterie, various cheeses, olives, and more,  as well as iced tea, Pellegrino, and something called Vita Coco Coconut Water from Brazil.  We have goodies waiting at home, so we decide to just do two tastings, one for our son and another we will share, at $17 for four tastes in pretty champagne flutes.   Although they have more than four wines, they decide on the menu of tastings each day. Oh, and you can add a chocolate pairing for an additional $10.

Our server knows his stuff, and seems quite enthusiastic, but he is also taking care of a couple of larger parties out on the patio and seems somewhat distracted, rushing back and forth.  Fortunately, we are not in a hurry.

  1.   2009 Brut                                           $29

This is their “signature” wine, a blend of 59% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Meunier, and 5% reserve wine.  I want to ask the server what “reserve wine” means, though I assume it is wine left over from other years, but he has disappeared and I forget when he returns.  We like the Brut better than on a past visit.  It has a somewhat doughy smell, with some notes of not-ripe melon, or maybe pear.  It is a light, dry champagne, with some residual sugar and a hint of grapefruit.  While I wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, as in a toast, it would be a lovely aperitif wine with nuts or soft cheese.

2.  2008 Blanc de Blancs                      $42 (Magnum $93)

On the other hand, I would happily drink a toast with this wine.  After a year on the lees, this 100% Chardonnay wine has a somewhat funky mineral aroma but is creamy to taste, and reminds me of a Granny Smith apple pie.  Nicely dry, but with good fruit, I could also see this paired with some Crescent Farms duck breast. and my son agrees.  It is better than most $20 champagnes one buys.

3.  2003 Brut Seduction                       $60

Another blend, this one is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, and spent eight years on the lees, according to our server.  One nicety—each taste is poured into a fresh glass. Here we smell dirt and mushrooms, but taste raspberry and lemon curd.  One could definitely sip this on its own and be very happy.  The tasting notes refer to its “organoleptic profile,” which occasions some hilarity in our little party.  Look it up.

4.  NV Cuvée Carnaval                         $27

Our server has poured our final taste before we finished the one before, and left, noting that he won’t be back, a fistful of glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, so I miss whatever he said about this wine, as I was concentrating on the previous one and comparing notes with my son.  This wine combines Merlot and Chardonnay, plus 4% Gewürztraminer, which probably accounts for some of its sweetness.  We smell strawberry jam and taste mango and cherry.  It wouldn’t be bad with a dessert like a flourless chocolate cake, and, for a sweet wine, has some nice minerality, so I like it better than I thought I would.  If you didn’t have Chateau d’Yquem, my husband notes, you could substitute this.  Well, maybe…

After we finish our last wine, we stand at the bar waiting to pay for our tastings, our server, as promised, having disappeared.  A gentleman comes over and asks us if we are waiting to buy a bottle.  No, we say, just waiting to pay for our tastings.  He thanks us for our patience, and tells us the tastings are free!  Nice gesture, which somewhat makes up for our harried server’s divided attentions.

Reasons to visit:  you like champagne—um, I mean, sparkling wine; you want to see what a North Fork winery can do with sparkling wines; you want caviar with your champ…sparkling wine; the Blanc de Blancs (my favorite); Bossa Nova nights.

Croteaux Winery

July 14, 2012:  Bastille Day, the perfect day to visit a French winery!

http://www.croteaux.com/

We are here after another day on the water with friends who like wine, but are not used to wine tastings.  They are a little surprised that you do have to pay for a tasting, and tend to violate the “drink these wines in this order” instructions, but otherwise enjoy the experience.  Croteaux is just off the main road, a little west of Greenport, and used to be somewhat undiscovered.    No more!  The parking lot (a grassy field bordered by rows of corn on one side and vines on another) is pretty full, and so is the tasting “room”–a lovely patio with umbrella-shaded tables and comfortable Adirondack chairs, bordered by a picturesque half-ruined barn.  However, the very competent and attractive young staff guides us swiftly to a table, and asks us if we would like some bread and cheese ($10).  A basket with slices of baguette and a crock of goat cheese quickly arrives.  There are two tasting options:  $10 for 3 of their $19 wines or $15 for 6 of all their wines (the more expensive group sells for $25 per bottle).  We easily decide that each couple will share a tasting of 6 wines.

1)  Merlot 181 (all named for their clones)

The server describes it as “summer in a glass,” and we agree.  It is a light, rosy rose, with a taste of unripe melon and a lemony finish.

2) Merlot 314

This has a lovely flowery aroma and a tart strawberry taste, with some hints of citrus.

3)  Merlot 3

The aroma is not too sweet but not unpleasant, and, even though it is 100% steel fermented seems to have a trace of vanilla.

As a transition between the two groups of three, our server turns over the little label in the tray that held the first three tastes (in attractive round-bottomed glasses) so that the next three are detailed.

4) 181 Sauvage

This wine uses the same Merlot clone as the other 181, but uses wild yeasts, and since Channing Daughter’s L’Enfant Sauvage is one of my favorite wines, I’m interested to see how this will taste.  (By using wild yeasts, the winemaker gives up a measure of control and sees what the air brings to the wine.)  The aroma has notes of mineral or clay, and though the flavor is more interesting than the 181, our friend dubs it “sour.”

5)  Chloe

This is a Sauvignon Blanc Rose with some Cabernet Franc as well.  We like it. The aroma reminds us of ripe peaches and the taste is dry but with plenty of fruit.  This is good, but not like what one expects a rose to be like.

6)  Jolie (French for pretty!)

This is a Cabernet Franc rose, a Bordeaux style, and my favorite of the afternoon, with lots of ripe strawberry/raspberry tastes.

That should be the end of our tasting, but we have a nice surprise in store.  In honor of Bastille Day, we are given free tastes of their two sparkling wines, the Cuvee Sparkle and the Cuvee Rouge Sparkling Cabernet Franc Rose, each $28 per bottle.  The first is light, made in what our server says is the French “charmat” style, and the second I really like, with tastes of lots of berries.  A final nice touch–as we sit and chat with our friends, the server brings a bottle of chilled water for us, a welcome treat on this hot day.  Tres civilized…

Reasons to visit:  great place to sit and relax on a warm day; best roses on the North Fork; you can pretend you’ve gone to France!