Tags Posts tagged with "Wine"


Diet and exercise are the first line of defense for those living with diabetes. Stock photo

Taking your blood pressure medications at night has beneficial effects

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Not surprisingly, soda – with 39 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can – is associated with increased risk of diabetes. However, the drink with the lowest amount of sugar is wine, red or white. Even more surprising, it may have benefits in reducing complications associated with diabetes. Wine has about 1.2 grams of sugar in 5 ounces. Per ounce, soda has the most sugar, and wine has the least.

Why is this important? The prevalence of diabetes currently sits at 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, while another 84 million have prediabetes (HbA1C of 5.7-6.4 percent) (1).

For those with diabetes, cardiovascular risk and severity may not be equal between the sexes. In two trials, women had greater risk than men. In one study, women with diabetes were hospitalized due to heart attacks at a more significant rate than men, though both had substantial increases in risk, 162 percent and 96 percent, respectively (2). This was a retrospective (backward-looking) study.

What may reduce risks of disease and/or complications? Fortunately, we are not without options. Several factors may help. These include the timing of blood pressure medications, lifestyle modifications (diet and exercise) and, yes, wine.

Diet trumps drugs for prevention

All too often in the medical community, we are guilty of reaching for drugs and either overlooking lifestyle modifications or expecting that patients will fail with them. This is not only disappointing, but it is a disservice; lifestyle changes may be more effective in preventing this disease. In a head-to-head comparison study (Diabetes Prevention Program), diet plus exercise bests metformin for diabetes prevention (3). This study was performed over 15 years of duration in 2,776 participants who were at high risk for diabetes because they were overweight or obese and had elevated sugars.

There were three groups in the study: those receiving a low-fat, low-calorie diet with 15 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise; those taking metformin, 875 mg twice a day; and a placebo group. Diet and exercise reduced the risk of diabetes by 27 percent, while metformin reduced it by 18 percent over the placebo, both reaching statistical significance. While these are impressive results that speak to the use of lifestyle modification and to metformin, this is not the optimal diabetes diet.

Is wine really beneficial?

Alcohol in general has mixed results. Wine is no exception. However, the CASCADE trial, a randomized controlled trial, considered the gold standard of studies, shows wine may have heart benefits in well-controlled patients with type 2 diabetes by altering the lipid (cholesterol) profile (4).

Patients were randomized into three groups, each receiving a drink with dinner nightly; one group received 5 ounces of red wine, another 5 ounces of white wine, and the control group drank 5 ounces of water. Those who drank the red wine saw a significant increase in their “good cholesterol” HDL levels, an increase in apolipoprotein A1 (the primary component in HDL) and a decrease in the ratio of total cholesterol-to-HDL levels compared to the water-drinking control arm. In other words, there were significant beneficial cardiometabolic changes.

White wine also had beneficial cardiometabolic effects, but not as great as red wine. However, white wine did improve glycemic (sugar) control significantly compared to water, whereas red wine did not. Also, slow metabolizers of alcohol in a combined red and white wine group analysis had better glycemic control than those who drank water. This study had a two-year duration and involved 224 patients. All participants were instructed on how to follow a Mediterranean-type diet.

Does this mean diabetes patients should start drinking wine? Not necessarily, because this is a small, though well-designed, study. Wine does have calories, and these were also well-controlled type 2 diabetes patients who generally were nondrinkers.

Drugs (not diabetes drugs) show good results

Interestingly, taking blood pressure medications at night has an odd benefit, lowering the risk of diabetes (5). In a study, there was a 57 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes in those who took blood pressure medications at night rather than in the morning.

It seems that controlling sleep-time blood pressure is more predictive of risk for diabetes than morning or 48-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This study had a long duration of almost six years with about 2,000 participants.

The blood pressure medications used in the trial were ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and beta blockers. The first two medications have their effect on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) of the kidneys. According to the researchers, the drugs that blocked RAAS in the kidneys had the most powerful effect on preventing diabetes. 

Furthermore, when sleep systolic (top number) blood pressure was elevated one standard deviation above the mean, there was a 30 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, the RAAS blocking drugs are the same drugs that protect kidney function when patients have diabetes.

We need to reverse the trend toward higher diabetes prevalence. Diet and exercise are the first line for prevention. Even a nonideal diet, in comparison to medication, had better results, though medication such as metformin could be used in high-risk patients that were having trouble following the diet. A modest amount of wine, especially red, may have effects that reduce cardiovascular risk. Blood pressure medications taken at night, especially those that block RAAS in the kidneys, may help significantly to prevent diabetes.


(1) cdc.gov. (4) Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications 2015;29(5):713-717. (3) Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. Online Sept. 11, 2015. (4) Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(8):569-579. (5) Diabetologia. Online Sept. 23, 2015.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

All of Pindar’s grapes are grown on its 500-acre property and are pressed in its on-site winemaking and bottling facility. Photo by Alex Petroski

It seems in today’s world that any venue meant for social gathering has two hard and fast rules in common with all of the others — no outside food is allowed in, and what’s offered on hand will cost an arm and a leg. It is a truism for concerts, beaches, baseball games and even most vineyards. Pindar Vineyards is a delightful exception to the rule.

Known for its extensive variety of wines, both types and styles, the 37-year-old family-owned vineyard allows visitors to bring in outside food to accompany a day of wine tasting and sightseeing on Pindar’s 500-acre property. It might not seem like a defining feature, but it is a characteristic that paints a broader picture of warmth, accommodation and overall customer service that has been a staple of the vineyard since Dan Damianos founded Pindar in 1979.

Pindar Vineyards is located on Route 25 in Peconic and is accommodating to groups large and small. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards is located on Route 25 in Peconic and is accommodating to groups large and small. Photo by Alex Petroski

“We’re kind of known as that friendly vineyard,” Melissa Martin, who handles public relations for the vineyard, said in an interview in Pindar’s tasting room in Peconic last week.

“Wine is fun. We take it seriously as well,” Martin said. “We take the winemaking seriously. However, we understand people coming out here to visit, we want them to be more relaxed and enjoy it. I like to educate people on the notes that are in the wine. No one should feel uptight about it or afraid to ask questions.”

Damianos passed away in 2014, though his children remain a major part of the vineyard’s day-to-day operations and continue to foster a welcoming atmosphere.

“Dr. Damianos, that was his thing,” Martin said of his friendly demeanor and lifelong dedication to making customers feel like part of the family. “He was always here and talking to everyone and very personable, so we really want to carry that on.”

Pindar’s wines are also known for their approachability. The vineyard offers more than 20 selections currently, with an emphasis on appealing to wine drinkers of varied experience levels. Edward Lovaas is preparing for his sixth harvest as Pindar’s winemaker.

“We have everything from wines on the sweeter side, wines on the dryer side, sparkling, red wines, dessert wines — so I think it’s pretty easy to say someone coming here for the first time, we make it easy for them to select the tasting they want and find a favorite,” Martin said.

The sheer size of Pindar’s tasting room and outdoor seating areas add to its ability to accommodate groups large and small. Martin said they are welcoming to bridal parties making a stop in a limo to a couple walking in just hoping to try something new, and everything in between.

Pindar Vineyards has expansive seating areas both inside and out that allow for groups of any size to enjoy their favorite wine, food and beautiful sights all at once at the Peconic Vineyard. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards has expansive seating areas both inside and out that allow for groups of any size to enjoy their favorite wine, food and beautiful sights all at once at the Peconic Vineyard. Photo by Alex Petroski

Martin described what she envisions as a perfect day at Pindar.

“The perfect day at Pindar is doing a tasting, finding your favorite wine, getting bottles and then finding a spot on the deck or on the pavilion or on the grass,” and that’s where allowing outside food, picnic style, sets Pindar apart, she said.

For Martin the wine of choice on said perfect day would be either Pindar Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier for a white or Syrah in a red. Martin added she has a personal passion for finding the perfect pairing of food to go with each wine Pindar has to offer.

The vineyard frequently hosts events from live music, to visits from food trucks if picnicking isn’t appealing, to an upcoming event that will feature a raw bar and seafood for wine club members. In its wine shop location on Main Street in Port Jefferson, Martin has spearheaded a cupcake and wine-pairing event. Tours are also offered on select dates of the vineyards grounds and bottling facility for those interested in the science of wine.

The end of July is the best time to visit Pindar, according to Martin. Every year its sunflower fields bloom around that time, and this year a professional photo booth will be on hand to snap and print keepsakes for the popular annual attraction.

North Shore residents looking for a relaxing, accommodating wine and food experience should keep Pindar Vineyards in mind, for the sights, tastes and feeling.

Pindar Vineyards offers more than 20 different types of wines with nearly every imaginable style accounted for. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards offers more than 20 different types of wines with nearly every imaginable style accounted for. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Bob Lipinski

Barbecues are great and so is watching baseball on Father’s Day. However, as the day heats up, I enjoy a libation that brings me peace of mind, helps me relax and makes MY day special. I’m talking about some California chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, followed by a glass of cognac after dinner.

“The land itself chooses the crop that suits it best.” Hugh Johnson

I recently had the opportunity to taste a few wines from the J. Lohr Winery in Monterey, California. Jerry “J” Lohr started the winery back in 1974 after a meticulous search of the Arroyo Seco region, an ideal site for grapes due to its long growing season. In 1986, Jerry purchased property in Paso Robles, a favored area for big full-bodied red wines.

The J. Lohr Winery has grown to approximately 3,700 acres of vineyards, where he grows chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, petite sirah, merlot, sauvignon blanc, syrah, riesling, and Valdiguié grapes, among others. Below are my tasting notes:

2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay; Arroyo Seco, California:
Light golden colored with a bouquet full of baked apples, spices, butter and toasted hazelnuts. A creamy mouthfeel, along with vanilla, banana, coconut and citrus. Pairs well with fish or a chicken breast rolled in crushed pistachios.

2012 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir; Arroyo Seco, California:
Fairly dark colored with hints of smoke, cocoa, black cherry and black raspberries. Medium bodied with a flavor of cola, dark fruit, jam and mint. Real easy to drink while grilling. Serve with farfalle and some grilled vegetables and hot peppers.

2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California:
Deep, dark colored with a bouquet of cassis, black tea, violets and plums. Full-bodied, powerful with flavors of black raspberry, coffee and cocoa powder. It is tannic, but nevertheless, easy going down. The lingering aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle). I served this beauty with a porterhouse steak, brushed with extra-virgin olive (after grilling).

The lingering aftertaste of the 2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon begs for another glass (or bottle).

2013 Tower Road, Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, California:
Inky black colored with a spicy bouquet and flavor of black pepper, blackberry, black cherry, plums and raisins. Full-bodied and intense, with overtones of herbs, tobacco and violets; a powerful aftertaste. I don’t assign numbers or points to a wine, but if I did, this Petite Sirah would easily score 90+ points. It’s that good!

Now, after those wonderful wines and perhaps dessert, a glass of cognac is certainly in order. Prunier VSOP Cognac from the “Grande Champagne” region of Cognac is amber colored with a delicate bouquet and flavor of orange, rose petals and pear. Very smooth finish and a lingering aftertaste. Prunier 20-year-old Cognac is amber colored with a captivating bouquet of prunes, raisins, cedar and orange blossoms. Warming in the mouth and is ultra-smooth; no burn! You will hear the violins play with a glass of Prunier.

Say hello to dad for me!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or  [email protected]

By Bob Lipinski

With winter a faint memory and spring rapidly disappearing, the “dog days of summer” will soon be upon us. It’s party and barbecue time for all summer’s holidays and special events. Now even though I generally drink more white and rosé wines in hot weather, there’s nothing like a chilled glass of chardonnay or a large, bowl-shaped glass filled with a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon.

When pairing food to wine remember that wine is constant, and you can’t change what’s inside the bottle. But you can change the ingredients, texture or flavor of the finished dish to complement the wine. With an oaky, buttery, somewhat toasty chardonnay, I generally look for foods that share some of the same taste components. Examples might be fish cooked in or served with some drawn butter like lobster, steamers, scallops and crab; or fish that has seen time on the grill or in the broiler and its top is nicely toasted or browned. Salmon is another winner because of the rich, buttery texture, which pairs nicely with chardonnay. Fish contains oil and wines (white and red) with good acidity cut the fat in seafood. Think for a moment why you add lemon juice to fish — to balance the oils. (If you said because it lessens the fishy smell or taste, you are eating old fish.)

Tip: If you really want to serve a full-bodied red wine with a medium-well or well-done piece of meat, immediately brush the meat with extra-virgin olive oil when the cooking is complete and spoon over diced tomatoes that have been marinated with extra-virgin olive oil and lightly anointed with lemon juice.

Full-bodied red wines like cabernet sauvignon are a natural for heavier, full cuts of meat, like steak, ribs, veal or pork chops. However, a full-bodied red wine served outdoors during an afternoon barbecue in August tastes horrible when its internal temperature reaches 85°F. Warm red wine feels heavy in the mouth. The heat accentuates the alcohol and makes the wine appear flabby and makes the acidity seem to disappear. So, simply chill the wine for around 30 minutes before serving or place into a chiller (minus the ice) and place on the picnic table.

When pairing red wine to meat, it’s important to know how your guests like their meat cooked. We know that rare is juicy with succulent flavors, and at the other end of the spectrum, well-done is dry with little or no juice. A young, dry full-bodied red wine (cabernet sauvignon), which is often loaded with tannins (causes your mouth to pucker), dries your mouth and is probably not suited to meats cooked longer, but is perfect for juicy rarer cooked meats. So with well-done meats choose a fruitier red (pinot noir) and with rarer cooked meats choose a fuller-bodied red (cabernet sauvignon).

Barbecue is 25% inspiration and 75% perspiration.

That’s it for now; just remember to save a seat for me.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know about Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]

Palmer Vineyards is located on scenic Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Palmer Vineyards is rebranding.

Fans of the vineyard, which opened its doors in 1983, should expect the same approachable feel to both the wines and the atmosphere at Palmer. The vineyard is maintaining many of the features that make it one of the best on Long Island, like being certified sustainable, but some upgrades and new features are on the way and should be completed in time for Memorial Day weekend, according to Director of Operations Ken Cereola.

Palmer Vineyards
5120 Sound Ave.,
Open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“People feel really, really welcome when they come here,” Cereola said in an interview on Palmer’s grounds last week, stressing their rebranding plan won’t compromise their comfortable feel. “We’re not standoffish, we’re not too pretentious.”

Palmer’s rebranding efforts include new labels on the bottles, some expanded outdoor seating areas outside of the tasting room, a brick oven on site for fresh made pizzas, a food truck and events geared toward education for inquiring wine minds. Chef Anna Aracri from Oceans 5 Seafood Market and Eatery in Shoreham handles food at the winery.

One such event, called the Plant. Pick. Pour. Wine Series 2016 is a three-part series in an intimate, interactive setting where participants can learn about the entire wine-making process over the course of three landmark dates that a vineyard incurs in a given year.

Palmer wines are aged in oak barrels in their barrel rooms for months at a time before they are ready to be bottled. Photo by Alex Petroski
Palmer wines are aged in oak barrels in their barrel rooms for months at a time before they are ready to be bottled. Photo by Alex Petroski

On June 11 the focus will be on Palmer’s unique grape varietals, why they work so well in Long Island’s climate and what makes its vineyard so versatile. On Sept. 10, it will be time to start preparing for the 2017 vintage’s harvest. Finally, on Dec. 3 guests will have the opportunity to taste the unreleased 2017 wines before they go on sale. All three events will feature wine tasting, food pairing and information from Palmer’s knowledgeable and well-traveled winemaker Miguel Martin.

Tasting room manager Evan Ducz is particularly excited for the series and said the response has been great in anticipation of the first event on June 11. Despite the educational feel, he reiterated Cereola’s assessment that the goal is to be informative without intimidating wine enthusiasts of varying experience.

“From the staff to the management, I think we make people feel really comfortable,” he said. “Comfortable about wine, which can be intimidating at times, and I think we also give off a really relaxed vibe, a very inviting atmosphere.”

Palmer Vineyards is undergoing a rebranding effort that includes changes to their labels. Photo by Alex Petroski
Palmer Vineyards is undergoing a rebranding effort that includes changes to their labels. Photo by Alex Petroski

Some other events at Palmer include Yoga in the Vines every Sunday, which is followed by brunch featuring breakfast pizza from their brick oven; a yearly kick-off to a fall harvest festival featuring live music, food and of course—wine; extended hours to 9 p.m. on Friday nights to start the weekend; and by-appointment winemaker tours.

Martin will have been at Palmer as its winemaker for a decade in the fall. Martin is from Spain and as Cereola puts it, has made wines all over the world. His diverse and substantial experience and knowledge gives Palmer a unique element not widely found on Long Island. He blends with grapes more commonly associated with other regions and also bottles an Albariño, a dry yet fruity white that usually comes from Spain.

“He’s a hell of a winemaker, but he’s an even better person,” Cereola said of Martin. “He’s a great guy to be around. He definitely doesn’t just make his wine and then go home. He’s a part of every aspect here.”

Ducz echoed Cereola’s comments about Martin. “As far as just being a tasting room manager the thing that I most appreciate about him is that you can go to him with any question,” Ducz said.

Palmer Vineyards now features an on-site brick oven for fresh pizzas made by Chef Anna Aracri. Photo by Alex Petroski
Palmer Vineyards now features an on-site brick oven for fresh pizzas made by Chef Anna Aracri. Photo by Alex Petroski

For those who can’t make it out to Riverhead to visit Palmer, some of the wines worth trying from a local wine store include its Rosé of Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Old Roots Merlot, according to Cereola and Ducz. I also recommend the Chardonnay.

The combination of Palmer’s team, products, atmosphere and events should place the vineyard toward the top of any list of must-visit North Shore destinations for Long Island residents.

Palmer Vineyards’ tasting room has a comfortable, approachable feel which makes wine-tasters of all experience levels feel welcome. Photo by Alex Petroski
Palmer Vineyards’ tasting room has a comfortable, approachable feel which makes wine-tasters of all experience levels feel welcome. Photo by Alex Petroski

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The caprese salad pairs tomatoes and basil with fresh mozzarella. Stock photo

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” — M.F.K. Fisher, “Vin et Fromage”

By Bob Lipinski

Before we start on our mozzarella journey, it’s important to note its correct pronunciation (mohtz-ah-REHL-lah). Now, this stringy, elastic, slightly salty cheese that often smothers pizza is not indicative of true mozzarella. In fact, this mozzarella is usually specially made for pizzerias.

In 1899, Giuseppe Pollio came to the United States bringing with him a recipe for success . . . his family’s old world tradition of making mozzarella. The company is Polly-O, which also makes a “string cheese” mozzarella.

Now, the mozzarella I’m going to discuss and pair with wine and fruit is the freshly made cheese, often found still warm, in the Italian neighborhood latticini (store that makes dairy products).

The making of mozzarella dates back to the 1400s in southern Italy, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that the white buffalo, descendants of the Indian water buffalo, were brought to Campania. The buffaloes are bred in Campania, Italy, and their low-yield milk is utilized in making mozzarella, although cow’s milk is used in most other countries. In addition to Campania, the cheese is also made in other Italian regions such as Apulia, Latium and Molise, and in 1996 it was awarded its own PDO by the Italian government and called Mozzarella di Bufala Campana.

The name “mozzarella” is derived from the word “mozzare,” which means “to top off or cut,” referring to the hand method of production. When freshly made, the cheese drips profusely with whey. A smoked version, called “mozzarella affumicata,” is also produced. Mozzarella is rindless with a creamy white exterior and interior. Various shapes and sizes including round, rectangular and salami-shaped are available. When twisted or braided it’s called “treccia.”

Mozzarella is soft, moist, and quite pliable, sometimes almost elastic, hence the popularity of “string cheese” sticks. It has a mild, delicate and slightly tart-sour flavor.

When pairing mozzarella, look for young red or white light-bodied, fruity wines that don’t overpower the cheese.

Regarding food, I like to use mozzarella in the classic salad of Capri, Italy, known as caprese. Purchase some freshly made mozzarella (there is some mail-order buffalo milk mozzarella available, but it needs to be eaten within two or three days). Now, a simple overlapping of similar sized, thinly sliced tomatoes and mozzarella sandwiched between pieces of fresh basil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then lightly drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and perhaps a delicate touch of a high-quality balsamic vinegar. The simplicity of the cheese makes all the difference in this dish.

When pairing mozzarella, look for young red or white light-bodied, fruity wines that don’t overpower the cheese. Some of the red wines I happen to like from Italy include Barbera, Bardolino, brachetto, dolcetto, sangiovese, and Valpolicella. White wines from Italy would be Frascati, Gavi, pinot bianco, pinot grigio, soave and verdicchio.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]

By Bob Lipinski

Spring fever — everyone (at least in New York) has it after a long, dreary and cold winter, punctuated by snow, ice, shortened days and the doldrums of being cooped up indoors, trying to keep warm. I’ve had my fill of stodgy winter vegetables, not being able to go outdoors and feel the warmth of the sun on my face and patiently waiting to put on short-sleeve shirts.

We need a Spring Fever Tonic to fill us with song, frivolity and a change of scenery (no, not a trip to Tahiti).

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” — Robin Williams

A plethora of young, fresh, fruity wines, with lively acidity and perhaps some dancing bubbles to tantalize and awaken your taste buds and spirit, comes to mind. Keep the oak-aged chardonnay and big, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon wines for cold weather.

During the winter months, I secretly began to write down beverages I would drink and recommend when cold weather finally ended. I want to share that list with you.

glass-flowerswNV Ferrari Brut — Trento, Italy
Pale yellow color with a refreshing, light aroma of citrus and some bread dough. It’s quite dry with overtones of green apple, lemon and pears. Great with fried calamari!

NV Lamberti Prosecco — Veneto, Italy
Very aromatic and fruity with classic flavors of apple, peach and citrus. Also present are hints of chamomile and ginger — delicious. Try it with some panettone.

2014 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay — Sonoma, California
I have been a fan of this wine for many years, and it continues with this bottling, bouquet and flavor of peaches, lemon, vanilla and hints of butter. Grab some cold lobster salad.

2013 Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi — Marches, Italy
An intensely perfumed aroma of apples, honeysuckle, lime, oranges and peach with a bitter almond aftertaste. Serve it with spaghetti alla carbonara.

2013 Bodegas Arzuaga “Crianza” — Ribera del Duero, Spain
Ruby-colored with a full bouquet and flavor of blackberries, coffee, chocolate and brown spices. It’s perfect with some black beans and rice.

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir “Director’s” — Sonoma, California
Cherry-colored with a strong bouquet of cranberry, raspberry, cola and spices. It’s medium-bodied with dry flowers and berries, and even more berries. Serve this beauty with a piece of grilled salmon.

NV Standing Stone Vineyards “Smokehouse Red” — Lake Seneca, Finger Lakes, New York
Lovely ruby color and so full of spices, cherry-chocolate and cinnamon. It’s dry, with mouth-filling flavors and a hint of smoke in the aftertaste. Pulled pork anyone?

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know about Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]

Pairing the perfect wine with a delicious meal is something of a family business. For almost 10 years I sold wine, and my father and grandfather did the same (for much longer), which allowed me to amass a decent knowledge of everything from the basics to some slightly more advanced, winemaking process related facts.

I’m not a sommelier, but I’m an enthusiastic wine consumer and I love finding the perfect pairing of wine and food. My experience and the important standing wine has always held in my extended and immediate family has taken me to many of the great wineries Long Island has to offer, and I’ve sampled wines from many of the places I haven’t visited. With that, I thought I would offer a list of my three favorite Long Island wineries, in no particular order, that can be used as a guideline for any fellow Long Islander interested in trying great food and wine in a beautiful setting this spring and summer.

wine-bottlewPalmer Vineyards, 5120 Sound Avenue, Riverhead

The draw to Palmer Vineyards is amazing quality wines, maybe as good as it gets on Long Island. Winemaker Miguel Martin is renowned for his buttery, oaky chardonnay; full-bodied, robust cabernet franc; and other lighter summery selections like his refreshing Sunrise Sunset Blush. Experienced wine drinkers with serious palates would be satisfied with their hearty reds and dryer whites, while beginners will find enjoyment in selections like Palmer Rosé of Merlot, or their Lighthouse Red and Lighthouse White blends, which are easy and approachable.

Palmer’s vineyard experience is fitting of its great wines. Martin conducts winemaker tours regularly where he leads guests through their vast barrel rooms and gets in-depth about his winemaking process. He even offers tastes directly from barrels. When the tour is over, there is outdoor and indoor seating space to occupy while enjoying samples.

Must try: Palmer Cabernet Franc 2012

Vineyard 48, 18910 Route 48, Cutchogue

If you enjoy wine and you are looking for a party atmosphere on a Saturday or Sunday, then Vineyard 48 should be your destination. Their wines and tasting room scream “summer.” The tasting room has a dance floor, large windows that let in sunlight and a live DJ on weekends. Vineyard 48 caters to limos and buses that drop off large parties. They offer the obligatory traditional wine selections like a fruit-forward merlot, and an acidic yet crisp sauvignon blanc, but the atmosphere pairs perfectly with their NOFO Peach wine or their NOFO Sangria, which come chilled and quench the thirst after some intense dancing.

Must try: Vineyard 48 NOFO Peach

Martha Clara Vineyards, 6025 Sound Ave, Riverhead

Martha Clara has become the event destination of the North Fork. They have a special event for almost every day of the week featuring some or all of food trucks, live music, wine classes, multi-course winemaker dinners, dog-walking events and many more over the course of the summer. Their wines range from easy-drinking like their Glaciers End series of red, white and rose to steak-dinner-worthy like their Northville red blend, which holds up to the heartiest of meals. Martha Clara wines have become some of the most popular selections in Long Island wines during their history, which dates back to the 1970s. They are owned by the same family that owns Entenmann’s baked goods, though the experience at Martha Clara can’t be contained to a case at the end of the aisle.

Must try: Martha Clara Estate Reserve Gewurztraminer 2014

Like many other vineyards on Long Island and across the world, winemaking is part of the family heritage for the Massouds and Paumanok Vineyards. Located at 1074 Main Road (Route 25A) in Aquebogue on the North Fork, Ursula and Charles Massoud founded the vineyard on the 127-acre estate in 1983. The couple, along with their three sons, still own and operate the vineyard to this day.

Kareem Massoud, Paumanok’s winemaker, called their vineyard a perfect blend of old world and new world style. With so much competition now on the North Fork, most vineyards seem to do what they can to develop a distinguished niche. “I think our niche is that we’re dedicated and committed to producing the most delicious wine possible,” Kareem said. “We’re really like a wine lovers winery. If someone’s really interested in wine, they should come visit.”

He added that Paumanok tends to stay away from the party atmosphere and focuses instead on their award-winning wines and the delicious oysters and cheeses that are also sold at the winery and pare wonderfully with the estate-bottled wines. Paumanok was named Winery of the Year for 2015 at the New York Wine & Food Classic. The competition was judged based on a cumulative score of at least seven submitted wines to a panel of 21 judges. Paumanok won the award one other time in 2004.

Their tasting room is a quaint old barn, with large windows that let in sunlight and provide beautiful views of their rows and rows of vines. The tasting room lets out to a deck around the back of the barn, with wooden tables and chairs for comfortable spring and summer days.

Paumanok wines are estate bottled, meaning that the producer of the grapes has control of the entire growing, harvesting, fermenting and bottling process. Everything in a bottle of Paumanok wine was grown on their property (with some minor exceptions). This distinction, along with the fact that Ursula was born and raised in Germany while Charles comes from Lebanon, gives the vineyard a nice dash of old world, according to Kareem.

Kareem said that Paumanok is one of the oldest wineries on Long Island that is still owned and operated by the original founders. The family has been making wine and building their brand since 1990.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Kareem said in an interview Monday. He reminisced about the days between 1983 and 1990 when the family was growing grapes, but no wine was being produced or sold yet. Kareem said that he and his brothers did quite a bit of lawn mowing between their family home in Connecticut and the massive land at the winery in Aquebogue during his teenage years.

Today, however, the winery has a dash of new world, state-of-the-art technology that has made winemaking a more — forgive the pun — fruitful endeavor. Kareem said last year Paumanok invested in a new mechanical harvesting machine with onboard sorting technology. It is useful for removing M.O.G., or matter other than grapes, when it’s time to harvest the grapes. It even includes a de-stemmer.

Kareem said that his wines are all like his children, so picking a favorite was very difficult. For a white, he chose Paumanok Chenin Blanc. Its current vintage is 2014. “I like to call that our ‘Sour Patch’ wine,” Massoud said, referencing the sweet and sour candy. He said that the citrus and grapefruit notes, paired with a refreshing, thirst-quenching characteristic, make it well balanced and provide a nice contrast.

The red Kareem is most proud of is their Assemblage, which is a French word meaning blend. He only makes the Assemblage in grand vintage years, or years with the best quality harvest of grapes. Recently, their 2013 Assemblage received the highest rating of any red wine on the East Coast from a popular wine magazine.

Kareem also added that the 2014 and 2015 vintages of Paumanok Riesling received awards as New York State’s best Riesling. That is not a small feat, as New York is one of the most popular Riesling producing areas in the world.

Paumanok Vineyards is open for self-guided or winemaker-lead tours during the spring and summer for small groups, or by reservation for large groups. They are also preparing for two marquee events: a Mediterranean cruise in June hosted by Ursula and Charles that features Paumanok wines and makes stops over a seven-day span from Portugal to the Bordeaux region in France and their sixth annual lamb roast dinner at the winery in August.

For more information about their events, or to plan a trip, visit www.paumanok.com.

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In 1982, Bob and Joyce Pellegrini had a vision. They wanted to own a quality winery with gorgeous views and a tasting room fit for their superior products. Bob Pellegrini passed away in early 2015, but his vision lives on with his wife and their professional and talented staff who are committed to the vision that the couple had over three decades ago.

Despite growth in the Long Island wine industry and booming demand for “party bus tours” and events built around entertainment first and great wine second, Pellegrini Vineyards has managed to stay true to who they are. Tasting room manager John Larsen and winemaker Zander Hargrave both stressed that desire to remain aligned with the Pellegrini’s mission.

Pellegrini is for serious wine drinkers. That was the overwhelming message from Larsen and Hargrave when I visited the vineyard on the first whisper of a spring day last week. That is not to say that those lacking a substantial base of knowledge in anything winemaking or drinking related should be intimidated by the experience at the Cutchogue vineyard. All that you need to bring through the door is a desire for knowledge and an appreciation for the delicate art that is winemaking.

“If you were looking for a party with your friends, this might be your perfect first stop,” Larsen said in Pellegrini’s Vintner’s Room, a second-floor sitting area with a massive window overlooking rows upon rows of vines growing the business’s cash crop. “Come and hang out, see what we’re all about, then go see music somewhere else later in the afternoon if you want the full experience of the North Fork,” Larsen added.

The team at Pellegrini Vineyards would prefer for their outstanding wine, customer service and breathtaking views to speak for themselves. Neither Larsen nor Hargrave seemed to begrudge any of the many vineyards that choose to be “event centers” as Larsen referred to them. However, neither has any desire to jump on that train. At least not right now.

“This is a true winery,” Larsen said. “We focus on the wine, and the customer service that goes along with it.”

Pellegrini Vineyards offers a wine club, which gets members exclusive wine releases, access to special dinners, luncheons, self-guided winery tours and other events. Both Hargrave and Larsen suggested that membership in the club is the ideal way to enjoy everything that Pellegrini has to offer.

Winemaking is in Hargrave’s blood. He has been at Pellegrini since the fall of 2014, though his roots in the Long Island wine industry date back to the very beginning. His parents, Louisa and Alex Hargrave, were the brave entrepreneurs who first decided that the North Fork of Long Island was being wasted by only growing potatoes.

Zander grew up at Hargrave Vineyards. He has essentially spent a lifetime in the wine community along the North Fork, save for a few hiatuses to pursue a teaching career, managing a vegetable farm and selling advertisements for a newspaper.

“I grew up with it,” Hargrave said about his youth around winemaking, which clearly has shaped the way that he hopes people enjoying his wine use it to craft memorable experiences. “It’s about the people. It was always about the people. The wine is sort of a conduit to relationships with people. When I look back on my life growing up in the vineyard, it was ‘who’s coming by?’ It was the excitement of the harvest, guests at our home, having dinner with really interesting people. That, to me, stands out more than anything. And of course as I got into the work and got older I gained an appreciation for wine itself. That’s not what I really think about growing up. It was all about the people.”

Hargrave raved about the state-of-the-art equipment that he has at his disposal, which makes the vineyard’s old world mentality of fine winemaking much easier to pull off. “I would say probably the most unique feature of the Pellegrini winery is we have six, ten-ton open fermenters that we do most of our reds in,” he said. The giant fermenters feature a pneumatic punch-down system that, without getting too technical, serves the same purpose as the old method of grape stomping. The tanks have a long arm that gently stirs the contents to submerge the flavor-packed grape skins that tend to rise to the top.

I asked Hargrave what he would bring home if he were grilling steaks for dinner. “You got to go with the Encore,” he said immediately. “That’s our Bordeaux blend. It’s only released in the very best vintages. The current vintage is 2010, which was one of the best vintages ever on Long Island. I did make a ‘13 that will be released down the line once it gets some bottle age. You can’t go wrong.”

Hargrave suggested his sauvignon blanc if seafood is on the menu. He also beamed with pride when describing Pellegrini’s chardonnay, which he touted as special and unique. He also called their merlot “world class.”

Sticking to their guns has been challenging at times, but it is easy to see why Pellegrini has been able to keep their focus on quality wine above all else. The passion that all of their employees have for great wine and the great experience that is learning about new wine through tasting and conversation is the lasting memory of a couple of hours spent there.

The roughly 30 acres of rolling hills, a feature that Larsen said is unique to Pellegrini on a mostly flat North Fork, could make relaxing in their outdoor courtyard with a glass in hand feel like a European getaway. An hour by car might seem like a rigorous day trip, but it’s nothing compared to a six-hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean. The experience might not be the same, but at Pellegrini it would be just as enjoyable.

Pellegrini Vineyards is located at 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue. For more information call 631-734-4111 or visit www.pellegrinivineyards.com.