Wine Down the Holidays with Long Island Varietals

A bottle of wine is perhaps the most classic offering for a guest to bestow upon their beloved host or hostess. And East Enders who want to share their wealth of local wine when traveling this holiday season will have a profusion of options to choose from. So, which bottle will it be?

Dan’s Papers spoke with local winemakers to find out which of their wines they think would pair best with holiday meals.

For those who want to represent a specific winery, New York wine writer Don Schuman says it would be wise to go for a pinot noir or full-bodied chardonnay. “It’s subtle and goes great with fish as well [as turkey] and goes with all fowl,” Schuman says of his red wine selection, adding, on his suggestion for whites, full-bodied chardonnays “are big enough to stand up to fowl, as well as fish.”

If you’re talking turkey, winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich of Bedell Cellars says, “rich, full-flavored whites match nicely with the savory and sweet combos of a turkey dinner…as do lighter bodied reds like franc or pinot.”

He suggests his fans go with Bedell’s gewürztraminer or cabernet franc. “They seem to be able to work well with all the traditional flavor combinations,” says Olsen-Harbich. “A barrel-fermented chard works well also.”

Roman Roth of the South Fork’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard also suggests a cabernet franc for those looking to drink Long Island wine this holiday season. He says those who want to represent Team Roth should consider purchasing a bottle of Wölffer’s cabernet franc known as Caya.

“Caya and Fatalis Fatum, a red blend, are the two reds I highly recommend for the holidays,” Roth says, adding that, if possible, one should snag a bottle from the 2010 vintage. “[It] was just fantastic, and my two suggestions are among the amazing reds that have really surprised people as they have a quality level that stands up to the best wine in the world. “

No matter which particular holiday party you’re attending, Roth says Wölffer’s Amarone-style cabernet sauvignon, Caletto, is a bottle that will help drive home the point that “Long Island is something special and can be featured and savored during the holidays.” Made from dried grapes, the Caletto is a concentrated wine that Roth calls “just amazing” in its decadence and said it should be served at the end of a heavy, long holiday meal.

“Everything else is heavy, so the wine paired with the actual dinner should be lighter to balance the meal,” he says. “After everything has been eaten you serve the Caletto to drive the point home that it’s a special dinner.”

If you like the idea of using a bottle of wine to signal the end of an epic holiday meal, Roth feels that another choice can be found in their line of dessert wines.

“Our ice wine, Diosa, is a beautiful dessert wine that comes in a small bottle but is enough for 20 people,” he says. “It’s a wonderful accent to serve as the crown on top of a two– or three– hour dinner.”

Want to stick to reds? Winemaker Kareem Massoud of Aquebogue’s Paumanok Vineyards, recently nominated for this year’s “Best American Winery” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, suggests snagging a bottle of Paumanok’s 30th anniversary wine, which retails for $100.

“It was described in The Wall Street Journal as bearing ‘comparison with Napa reds costing two to three times as much,’” says Massoud, adding that those who prefer to go white this season should find a perfect buy in the just-released 2009 Blanc de Blanc or the 2013 Chenin Blanc.

If you’re a history lover, you may consider buying a bottle of Dos Aguas from Macari Vineyards in Mattituck. The bottle’s label makes it the “signature” wine of owner Joe Macari, who seeks to honor the area’s very first farmers—the East End’s Native Americans—with this red blend.

Another wine suggestion from the Mattituck winery comes from Macari’s winemaker, Kelly Urbanik. “The 2010 Bergen Road just came out and it’s really delicious,” says Urbanik of another of Macari’s celebrated red blends, adding her suggestion for whites can be found in the 2013 early wine, which is currently being bottled.

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