Temperatures are warming, the air is fresh, and soon it will be time to pop open the bottles of light whites and roses. Not yet, though. Let’s face it…despite the mild winter it’s cold until at least April on Long Island. On the cusp of two seasons finding your drink of choice—one heavy enough to hold off the chill of a later winter night but light enough to drink on a mild spring like day—is no easy task. These five drinks are up to the challenge.
These big beers pair well with the hearty food you’ll still be eating during the seasonal transition. Try Great South Bay Brewery’s Snaggle Stout, a combination of unique ingredients including roasted chocolate malt, flaked oats cinnamon, licorice root and Long Island apples or the heavier Dirty Deeds with flavors of espresso, chocolate and vanilla.
Wondering what beer to drink if you’re not a fan of stouts and porters or for when the weather does start to require something lighter? The answer according to Great South Bay Brewmaster Dan Derby is sour ale. “They take a while to get used to, but they offer a great pairing to fatty and salty foods due to their abundant presence of bacteria, usually Pediococcus and Lactobacillus, bonus…they are a probiotic.”
Spiced Wine Cocktails
Even as the day gets warmer and the nights remain cool, a spiced wine cocktail will keep you warm and is the social cold-weather equivalent to summertime’s pitchers of mojitos. Start with a bold red, such as a cabernet sauvignon as a base and experiment with spice combinations. Here’s a recipe from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi to use as guide:
1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey or sugar, or more to taste
5-6 whole cloves
2-3 allspice berries
2-3 whole cardamoms (optional)
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Remove the zest from the orange and the lemon in thin strips. Set the strips of peel aside. Halve and juice the lemon and orange and pour the juice into a stainless-steel saucepan.
Add the wine and sweetener and half the strips of zest.
Stir to combine.
Lay out a sheet of cheesecloth on your counter and place the whole cloves on it. Crush the allspice berries and whole cardamoms (if you’re using them) with the flat of a knife and then add those and the cinnamon sticks to the cheesecloth.
Fold up the corners and tie them with cotton kitchen twine to make a neat bundle.
Place the spice bundle in the saucepan, then heat the mixture over moderate heat until it comes to a gentle simmer.
Steep the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until the spice flavors are well infused into the wine.
Remove the spice bundle and discard it.
Taste the wine and add more sweetener if necessary to balance the flavors.
Serve the mulled wine immediately in heatproof mugs, garnished with the remaining strips of citrus zest. Alternatively, transfer it to a preheated slow cooker or thermal carafe for later enjoyment.
While it probably won’t be time for that sauvignon blanc for at least another month, there are white wine options that are substantial enough for the winter to spring transition, such as the Greco di Tufo Fonzone 2014.
“Clean, bright and vibrant on the front of the palate, yet full and rich on the back end,” Andrew McMurray, vice president of Zachys Wine & Liquor said of the versatile white wine.
There’s no rule that says you have to only drink rosé in the summer. If it’s your wine of choice no matter the season, McMurray recommends the Chateau Puech-Haut Rose Cuvee Prestige Coteaux de Languedoc 2015. Crafted like a red wine with red wine grapes it has a balanced crispness, ideal this time of year.