By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Debbie Huneken, Tasting Room Coordinator at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, is a local.
She was born and grew up in Southampton, spending summers riding her bike and fishing, two activities she still enjoys in her free time. She is also an active runner and triathlete recently completed her first marathon in Prague.
Debbie attended the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford where she studied fine art, graphic design and print media.
I know her as the knowledgeable -- and always smiling -- person pouring wines in the tasting room.
Today, we bring back our Q&A series -- after a 3 month hiatus -- with Debbie as our interviewee:
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
My first real “ah ha” moment was over some really bad Chinese food with Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters winery. It was November (2006?) and he was explaining Beaujolais Nouveau, carbonic maceration and “fresh wine.” I needed to know more.
Cut to a few weeks later and I am working in the tasting room at Channing Daughters.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I’m not gonna lie. I was in college. Most bottles were under $8 and there were a few boxed wines that made their way into my mini fridge in my dorm room in the early days.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
If you ask me tomorrow my answer will change based on factors such as mood, food weather etc.
But my go to wine as we move into the spring/summer is anything from our Tre Rosati program. They pair well with anything or nothing at all.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Long Island wine community?
I’m always a little surprised at how many people don’t know there is a booming wine region here on Long Island. I’m also pretty amazed at the diversity between each winery. There are no two wineries doing the same thing.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
If made with fresh lime juice, as opposed to the sugary mix, I love a good margarita.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I do not believe there is a right or wrong pairing as far as food and wine goes. I always thought a big buttery California chardonnay was the “right” thing to pair with buttery lobster until I tried it with Kareem’s (Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumonok Vineyards) Chenin Blanc.
The searing acidity in the chenin blanc cut right through the richness of the lobster and butter and gave the rich meal some lift. You can pick both your lobster and chenin blanc up at the Hayground Farmers Market on Friday afternoons during the summer which is very convenient.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
One of my most memorable wine drinking experiences was on a recent trip to Italy.
My fiance and I were at an outdoor café in Piazza Unità d'Italia in Trieste enjoying a bottle of local ribolla gialla and some assorted olives and crisps. This is the largest main square in Italy to be open on one side to the water and if you squint you can see Slovenia across the Adriatic Sea.
It was the beginning of lent and there were celebrations going on in the square. Kids in costumes were throwing confetti and chasing pigeons. This was all happening against the architecture of the 1800s. Pretty memorable bottle of wine.