It’s time to set the table. Fortunately, you already know that presenting an exquisite dinner begins long before you fold your pumpkin-colored napkins. Creating a memorable meal with perfect wine pairing requires planning, and that’s what this blog is all about! We’re going to present you with Long Island fall ingredients matched with the perfect Pindar Vineyards wine selections to help you wow your dinner guests this season.
Long Island Wine Country and its agricultural region offers abundant autumn culinary fare on the North Fork, where Pindar is located, freshly sourced from the Riverhead area through Greenport and even into the waters surrounding Shelter Island. There are nuances in the wines in this area too. These distinct characteristics belong solely to Long Island, all due to its terroir and glacial soil. Simply put – local wine goes best with local ingredients from both land and sea. Now, let’s start planning our menu:
Appetizer: Little Neck Clams and Sparkling Wine
The introduction to a meal is like a celebration in itself and celebrations call for sparkling wine. The first course, our appetizer, will be Little Neck clams. Steamed with fresh garlic, Italian herbs and butter, these small and tender delicacies are ideal with Pindar’s Premier Cuvée. This sparkling wine is crafted in the traditional methode champenois from 100% chardonnay grapes. The lively effervescence complements the texture and flavor that the steam pot imparts. Little Necks can be found at most any local fish market across the island, like Blue Moon Fish in Mattituck.
Salad: Brussel Sprouts, Pecans and Autumn Gold
Next up is salad. Fall salads are a personal favorite of mine. Why? Two words: Brussel sprouts and pecans. Mix a cold salad consisting of candied pecans, bacon, apples and shaved Brussels sprouts, then top it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Skip the super market and hit a farm stand for the sprouts, as the flavor is earthier when they are picked from Long Island soil; Sang Lee Farms sells all organic produce and is a great choice here. Autumn Gold is the wine match for this dish. One of Pindar’s proprietary blends, Autumn Gold is a dry white wine with mineral notes and a grapefruit character. It will balance the elements of the salad and work alongside the tangy vinaigrette dressing as well. Truly, there is a reason for the name on the label; it tastes like a crisp fall day.
Main Course: French Breasted Chicken, Goat Cheese and Cabernet Franc
Now, for the main course, I am suggesting French breasted chicken, roasted with herbs and topped with goat cheese. Ask your butcher about this style of preparing the chicken with the wings still attached. You can make this dish work with a traditional cut of chicken breast, but the presentation will be much more impressive with the crispy drumette on the plate. You can find local goat cheese at Catapano Dairy Farm that is supremely creamy and flavorful and we recommend picking up your chicken at Browder’s Birds, the island’s only certified organic and pastured poultry farm. For this recipe, you’ll want to pairing with the 2013 Cabernet Franc. Not only is this my Long Island red grape varietal of choice, but the dark fruit notes, which are almost jammy up front with hints of pepper and clove on the finish, make this a natural choice with the robust herb and goat cheese on the chicken. This wine is also great with duck and savory pork dishes.
Dessert: Local Pie and Gewurztraminer
What would a four-course dinner be without a spectacular finale? To complete the meal and wow guests at your Long Island harvest table, serve either a fruit pie from one of our local farm stands – Briermere Farms is a crowd favorite – topped with fresh whipped cream; or place a platter of warm, sugared cider donuts found at a variety of farm stands and apple orchards, on the table. The wine choice for both of these treats will be the 2014 Gewurztraminer dessert wine. It offers notes of tangerine, citrus zest and honey, with enough acidity to brighten up the palate without a syrup-like finish. You’ll find the citrus and honey complement the cider and fruit of the desserts.
You can find all the local foods on the East End of Long Island and any of the above Pindar wines can be found at Pindar’s winery and tasting room in Peconic; Pindar’s wine shop in Port Jefferson; online; or simply by giving the tasting room a call. You can find Autumn Gold and Cabernet Franc at your local liquor store, but the other limited production labels will only be available through Pindar Vineyards directly.
I hope you find this advice on hosting a wine pairing dinner inspiring and helpful – and you will try it. All recipes are easy to find and the difficulty level is beginner to intermediate. Happy harvest and cheers to you!
By Melissa Martin, marketing director at Pindar Vineyards; marketing consultant in wine, food and East End tourism