(This column appeared in the 7/29 issue of Dan's Papers)
As you may have read in this space last week, I got married a few weeks ago. We had a perfect ceremony on a covered bridge in bucolic upstate New York, which was followed by a fun and lively reception filled with the best of friends and — of course — Long Island wines. In fact, instead of table numbers, we used Long Island winery names and wine from each was placed on the tables.
Needless to say, our guests loved the idea and hardly a drop of wine was left at the end of the evening.
After taking a day to recoup, we hopped on a plane bound for tropical Jamaica. We spent eight glorious days soaking up the sun (and one dodging Hurricane Emily in our room) on the island’s southern coast. The newly opened all-inclusive resort was beautiful and we had a great, relaxing and romantic time snorkeling, kayaking and just lounging around the pools.
But the food was disappointingly mediocre and the wine…the wine was just horrid. By the end of our trip, we couldn’t wait to get back home to get some great food and local wines.
We took a bit of a risk by heading to Andrew’s by the Pond in Wading River because we’d never been before. But I’d heard good things – and we were treated to a great meal and an always-delicious bottle of Lieb Family Cellars 2001 Merlot Reserve. Smooth and refined with cherry and plum flavors, we’ve always loved it and it paired well with the dry-aged porterhouse for two we shared.
The restaurant’s impressive, though not huge, wine list is highlighted by a very nice selection of local wines. And it got me wondering why more restaurants don’t focus on local wines…and why diners don’t order them more. I always scan the room to see what bottles are on tables and more often than not, I see factory-produced, over-priced wines from California instead of hand-crafted local ones.
Why? I can only assume it’s because restaurant wine prices can be daunting. If you’re going to spend $50 or more on a bottle of wine in a restaurant, you’re probably more likely to look for names you recognize like Mondavi, Beringer, or even (gulp) [yellow tail].
Do yourself a favor the next time you’re eating out and there are Long Island wine on the wine list – order a bottle and drink local.
Everyone is “eating local” these days. I mean, if you have the choice between fish caught off of Montauk Point or fish that has traveled thousands of miles, which do you choose? Or if you can eat a salad made using greens grown right around the corner or one made with tasteless Romaine from California, which would you prefer?
I’d choose local every time.
People who live in Bordeaux aren’t drinking Aussie Shiraz or Cali Cabernet. No, they’re drinking Bordeaux – most likely from the nearest chateau.
We’re lucky to have local wines that are worth drinking. Wine is made in every state nowadays, but we have some of the best. Enjoy it. Relish in it. Drink local. Heck, I even drank local when I was in Jamaica. I drank the local beer (Red Stripe) and the local rum (Appleton Estate) every day. And the best food was the local cuisine.
Try Paumanok’s Chenin Blanc with local shellfish. Try Castello di Borghese’s Reserve Pinot Noir with Long Island duck. Or try some other delectable combination. Just eat local and drink local. You won’t be disappointed.