Leather jackets and cozy cardigans help us transition our summer wear into fall. But, as advanced the Long Island wine region has gotten over the last decade, no one has quite figured out how to put a sweater on a light-and-fruity Riesling, a mild dilemma considering September tends to call for end-of-summer barbecues and early-fall harvest celebrations.
“It’s a time people get together,” said Dion Raftis, general manager of Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas in Garden City. “Where there’s people it’s very nice to have wine. It accompanies great food, which we certainly have on Long Island.”
Raftis rummaged around his wine cellar to find five wines that hold their own during both the warm days and cooler nights ahead.
Riesling: Dr. Hermann Kabinett, Mosel, Germany 2014
This German Riesling bucks the notion that Riesling is only for the laziest days of summer and desserts. “I like the Mosel as a wine region because it offers a very nice balance of mineralogy and fruit. The minerality really dries out the finish of some of these wines that can be perceived as sweet.” The wine’s notes of cream apple and honey spice are similar to the ciders and cinnamon we start sipping, smelling and savoring this time of year and pair perfectly with a sweet-and-savory dish like melon and prosciutto pizza.
Lieb Cellars Pinot Black, Long Island, NY 2013
Raftis said Chef Ryan Keough, executive chef at Spuntino, loves to pair this local wine with fall favorites like cast iron roasted chicken and prosciutto wrapped monkfish. “Flavors of ripe pear, peach melon and a hint of salinity add richness to the complexity of this wine.” Though complex, the wine is not too overbearing for a warmer day, which also makes it a top choice for seasoned vinos and those still figuring out their palates.
Hook and Ladder Chardonnay, Russian River, California 2013
Pale straw in color, Hook and Ladder’s Chardonnay undergoes a malolactic fermentation that gives it a light buttery flavor and smooth-mouth feel that can stand up to food with some fat or salt (so long, swimsuit season). “It has a good amount of acidity that pierces through and with the green apple and citrus notes to round things out.” Try with a seared salmon or mussels.
Syrah Qupe, Central Coast, California 2013
The time has come for final barbecues and heartier meats like braised short ribs. The spicy component of the Syrah Qupe makes it a no-brainer for red-meat pairings and cooler evenings. “Syrah takes the chill out of the air for you.” Sippers will also taste dark berry fruits, green olive and a well-balanced acidity.
Pinot Noir, Boedecker 2013 Oregon
After a summer of whites and rosé, pull out an old favorite. The Boedecker Pinot Noir is “rich, smooth but lighter bodied and it accepts you with open arms. It’s almost like meeting an old friend after a long time.” It’s easy to drink and broad-appealing, making it a good option for parties and sipping with or without food.