There’s a Long Island Wine for Every Meaty Mouthful in Town

MerlotDuck, duck, grapes. Don’t blow your carbon cred on wine from another hemisphere. Vineyards in Brooklyn’s backyard have bottles to pair with whatever you’re sinking your steak knife into.

Spectacular Steak

Trent Preszler of Bedell Cellars says his favorite steak is the grassfed rib eye at Rye restaurant in Williamsburg. “Since it takes a long time to cook, I sip a glass of rye on the rocks and down a few chilled oysters from Peconic Bay. With the steak I’d have a bottle of our 2007 Musée, a deep, full-bodied blend with hints of blackberry and tobacco, and palate-cleansing tannins that make it a perfect pairing with the rib eye. It feels good knowing the grapes for Musée were sustainably grown just 80 miles east of Brooklyn.”

When Dominique Noel at Heights Chateau wine shop slices into grassfed steak, he pours Wölffer’s 2007 Cabernet Franc. “Its balance and complexity, which combine European elegance with the typicity of Long Island terroir, enhance the meat. The nose is redolent of berries, white pepper, cedar and vanilla, expanding with ripe fruit flavors intermingled with peppery, slightly vegetal nuances, framed by soft tannins and balanced by bright acidity into a smooth, earthy finish. A delightful combination.”

Porky Pig

On Thursdays, when Buttermilk Channel packs crowds for its Berkshire pork chop special, owner Doug Crowell suggests Wölffer Estate Reserve Merlot 2005 alongside. It’s got great acidity and tannins, which he says are “what you crave in your glass when you’ve got something fatty on the plate.”

Daniel Kreitzman, whose Fat Cat Wines in Carroll Gardens is a Piggery’s CSA pickup point, suggests the fruity Raphael La Tavola 2007 with chops and Wölffer Chardonnay 2008 for the cured items—both bottles from Long Island. But with the Piggery’s sweet sausages, Fox Run Vineyard’s New York Merlot, a luscious red made in the Finger Lakes—where the Piggery raises those heritage hogs.

With a Greenpoint deli dinner of pierogi, kraut and kielbasa, Channing Daughters’ revered winemaker Christopher Tracy suggests his 2008 Meditazione. “It’s a white made like a red,” he explains, “and its nutty, spicy flavors will match the smoky sausage and earthy pierogies, but will not be overwhelmed by the kraut!”

You’ve Got Game

Game begs for bold bottles. “Long Island is not known for making big red wine,” says Jacques Gautier of Park Slope’s Palo Santo. But if you tasted Wölffer’s Claletto blind, he swears, “you would never guess that it came from Long Island. It has an earthy, prune nose like an Amarone because it was made with partially dried grapes. It is one of the few local wines that I would confidently pair with our game dishes—like braised wild boar.”

When it’s time to braise the rabbits raised in your tiny backyard, you want a wine that’s hyperlocal, too, so Red Hook Winery’s Christopher Nicolson suggests one of their made-in-Brooklyn bottles: The 2008 Electric. “The wine is eccentric, a delicious, nutty, aromatic foil for bubbling, cast-iron braise that you’ve just pulled from your oven.”

Flatbush Farm’s Timothy Zwettler pairs Long Island duck steak with a wine from nearby fields: Mattebella’s Famiglia Red by the glass. “It’s my favorite wine from Long Island. A blend of cabernet franc and merlot grapes, it stands out with just enough oak to match the hearty gaminess of the duck.”

Bold Tastes of Brooklyn

Is there a wine that can stand up to a Jamaican beef patty, eaten right from the brown paper bag? Brian Robinson, owner of Myrtle Avenue’s Gnarly Vines, says tannins clash with Scotch Bonnet peppers. “I’d pick a lighter-bodied, crisp red that’s not too subtle: Channing Daughters 2008 Blaufrankisch.

The Beastmaster from Roberta’s, featuring Gorgonzola, pork sausage, capers, onions and jalapeños, is a pie that “shouts ‘mustaches!’” says Christopher Nicolson, winemaker at Red Hook Winery. “Pair it with wine grown biodynamically by an Italian family: Joseph and Alexandra Macari’s 2004 Alexandra—handsome, well-textured, and a keenly aimed shot over the bow of the capers and sausage.”

Nick DiMinno of Sip Fine Wine, around the corner from Bklyn Larder, recommends Bouké Red with the shop’s famous meatballs, saying the Bordeaux blend’s touch of sweet fruit pairs well with their gorgeous rusticity.

What pairs well with a pound of Fette Sau’s Brisket? “My favorite barbecue red from the great Long Island is Herrick’s Lane Cabernet Franc,” says Patrick Watson, co-owner of the Brooklyn Wine Exchange. “It’s one of my favorite cabernet francs from the state, hands down! The spicy, smoky fruit makes it perfect with anything off the barbie. Seriously, try this at home!”

Nice with Spice: Brian Robinson, the owner of Fort Greene’s Gnarly Vines, suggests pairing a Jamaican beef patty with a crisp, Hamptons-made red from Channing Daughters.

Great with Game: Long Island may not be known for its over-the-top reds, says Palo Santo chef Jacques Gautier, but Wölffer’s Claletto can stand up even to heavy hitters like their wild boar shanks braised in red wine.

Photo credit:  Max Flatow.

Courtney MacGinley

A freelance writer, full-time mom and part-time Professor of Journalism at Suffolk County Community College, Courtney MacGinley is a firm believer that some of the best times are spent around the dinner table. Her work has focused on Long Island's culinary scene in the pages of Edible East End and Edible Long Island magazines for nearly a decade.

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