Tags Posts tagged with "Wine"


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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Lodi, the largest and most important Central Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) designated in 1986, is home to over 20 percent of California’s total wine grape production, with over 100,000 acres of vineyards. 

Located in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Sacramento, on the eastern edge of the Sacramento River Delta, Lodi is slightly cooler than much of the Central Valley because as temperatures rise, marine breezes are pulled from San Francisco Bay, creating a distinctly cooler climate than the rest of the valley. Lodi’s sub-AVAs are Alta Mesa, Borden Ranch, Clements Hills, Cosumnes River, Jahant, Mokelumne River, and Sloughhouse.

The city was originally called Mokelumne (Mokul is a corruption of the Miwok word for river, and umne means “people of”), and was established as a town in 1869 after a group of major landowners persuaded the Central Pacific Railroad to make it a stop between Stockton and Sacramento. The town of Mokelumne was often confused with the nearby communities of Mokelumne Hill and Mokelumne City, which often delayed mail and shipments of goods and supplies. For these reasons, the town’s name was changed to Lodi in 1874.

Lodi is home to both large brands, like Sutter Home and Robert Mondavi Woodbridge, and over 85 small boutique wineries, many of whom specialize in “old-vine” Zinfandel production. In addition, many leading California wineries buy Lodi grapes, including E. & J. Gallo, Constellation, Fetzer Vineyards, Delicato, Napa Ridge, Ravenswood, and Beringer, among others.

Lodi is considered the “Zinfandel Capital of the World,” producing over 30 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel. Many of the city’s most distinctive Zinfandel wines come from about 2,000 acres of Pre-Prohibition, “old vines,” some dating back to the 1880s. These vines are naturally low-yielding due to age, but consistently produce high-quality grapes. Besides Zinfandel, major grapes grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and over a hundred other varieties.

Some recommended wineries to try Zinfandel from are:

Berghold Vineyards

Borra Vineyards

Gnarly Head Wines

Harmony Wynelands

Harney Lane Winery and Vineyards

Ironstone Vineyards

Jeremy Wine Company

Klinker Brick Winery

Lange Twins Family Winery

Macchia Wines

McCay Cellars

Mettler Family Vineyards

Michael David Winery

Oak Farm Vineyards

St. Amant Winery

Van Ruiten Family Vineyards

“What is the best California wine?” Now it is impossible to answer that question as phrased. The range of wines is wide and the list of different types and their makers is long. (Lindley Bynum, Davis Bynum Winery Inc.)

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He consults and 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]

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

For years, chefs, critics, and food writers have been telling us that red wines need to be paired with red meats and white wines with white meats or fish. This is what I call “The One Size Fits All,” concept and doesn’t take into consideration the multitude of recipes that fall “outside the box” and don’t adhere to the old “red with red wine and white with white” rules.

Some classic recipes that include fish cooked or served in a red sauce are spaghetti with red clam sauce, bouillabaisse (and other fish stews), baccalà (dried cod) in a rich tomato sauce, and lobster fra diavolo in a spicy tomato sauce. Besides these, there are hundreds of recipes for fish cooked in a red sauce and many are great paired with red wine.

Often, it is not the type of fish that determines which wine to drink, but the type of sauce, and the herbs and spices that have been used in the dish’s preparation. Fish can be poached, boiled, broiled, grilled, blackened, crusted, and so forth. It’s all about the texture of the fish after cooking. A poached fish is a simple dish that is silky tasting but lacks texture. The same fish blackened gives it a heartier texture that can stand up to a light-bodied, dry red wine.

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A young, full-bodied, oaky, and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with beef. Yet, paired with fatty, oily, or smoked seafood, the tannins in the wine react with fish oils producing a fishy, metallic, tinny taste, and aftertaste. It would be better to serve a young, fruity, light-bodied, higher-acid, dry red wine that is low in tannin.

Some red wines that pair with fish are Pinot Noir, Barbera, Bardolino, Gamay (Beaujolais), Grignolino, Carignan, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese. These reds are also terrific with fleshier fish, such as tuna, shark, swordfish, and especially salmon. In addition, because they are in higher in acidity, oily fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and bluefish also pair well with these wines. The acid helps balance the oils in the fish, similar to why we squeeze lemon onto fish.

Besides red wines, dry, crisp rosé wines like the wines from Provence and Tavel, France, and others made from Cinsaut, Grenache, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo grapes are great with shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels), scallops, shrimp, crab, and lobster. They are also pair well with a chilled shrimp cocktail sauce or mignonette served over oysters.

Don’t always follow the rules; create your own!

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He consults and 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].

Tom Manuel and Steve Salerno. File photo/TBR News Media

Did you hear the news? There’s a new couple in town — Wine & Jazz! Starting May 12, The Jazz Loft will be bringing live jazz music to Madiran The Wine Bar in East Setauket every second Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m.

Titled The Jazz Dispatch Live Music Series at Madiran, the event will feature Steve Salerno on guitar, Tom Manuel on cornet, and a special guest. The monthly series will also feature a rotation of musicians as well as an array of guest artists.

“We are excited about partnering with local business owner Jacqueline Malenda and Madiran to bring live jazz music to this delightful and intimate venue,” said Manuel, the founder of the Jazz Loft. 

“Our Jazz Dispatch Series is our community outreach efforts to get what we do inside the walls of the Jazz Loft out into the community at large. Our desire is to meet people where they’re at, be it restaurants, parks, Jazz clubs, museums, historic buildings, and more,” said Manuel. “We’re excited to be announcing soon two additional Jazz Dispatch events — a new series in Harlem, New York as well as one on Shelter Island.”

“As a lifelong jazz enthusiast, I could not be more thrilled to be partnering with Tom and the Jazz Loft for a great experience at the wine bar!” said Malenda. “What better pairing is there than good wine and pure jazz?”

Madiran The Wine Bar is located at 209 Route 25A in East Setauket. For more information visit www.thejazzloft.org.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Alentejo is a grape-growing region south of the River Tagus and southeast of Lisbon in southern Portugal. This extensive region is not only famous for its wines but also plantations of cork oak trees. The most productive cork tree in the world is the Whistler Tree in Alentejo, producing corks since 1820. It is named for the countless songbirds that occupy its dense branches. This tree can supply material for 100,000 wine corks in a single harvest. As a comparison, the average cork oak tree produces material for 4,000 corks.

Alentejo has around 51,000-acres of vineyards producing red, white, rosé, sparkling and licoroso (sweet fortified) wines. Red grapes include Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouchet, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Castelão, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, and Trincadeira. Red wine production exceeds that of white, and Trincadeira is the region’s most prominent grape. White grapes include Antão Vaz, Arinto (Pedernã), Fernão Pires (Maria Gomes), Manteúdo, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha, Síria (Roupeiro), and Tamarez.

Portugal produces many cheeses, some from sheep’s, cow’s or even goat’s milk depending on where they are produced. Three popular cheeses (made from sheep’s milk) from Alentejo are Évora, Nisa, and Serpa.

Some recommended wines from Alentejo to enjoy with bites of these cheeses are:

2020 Casa Relvas Herdade de São Miguel Rosé: A blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, and Syrah grapes. Salmon-colored with an aroma of fresh flowers, tropical fruit, and banana. Flavor of berries, honey, and citrus with a lingering aftertaste. Serve with Caesar salad and grilled chicken.

2019 Herdade do Rocim “Amphora” Tinto: A blend of Moreto, Tinta Grossa, Trincadeira, and Aragonez grapes. Black cherry-colored with a bouquet of berries- blackberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied with flavors of caramel, coffee, licorice, and plums. Pair with chicken cooked in a sweet fruit sauce.

2018 EA Red Blend “Cartuxa”: A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah grapes. Deep-colored with a bouquet brimming with spicy blueberries and chocolate. Flavors of red fruits, raisins, and dried black plums. Pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste. Try with grilled vegetables and portobello mushrooms.

2018 Monsaraz Reserva: A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, and Touriga Nacional grapes. Garnet-colored with an aromatic bouquet of black cherry and raspberries. Full-bodied and dry with flavors of plums, blackberries, and black tea. A must for veal scaloppine sautéed in a mushroom sauce.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He consults and 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].

Moderation is the key. Photo from Pexels
Modest alcohol consumption may decrease stroke risk in women

By David Dunaief

Dr. David Dunaief

Alcohol is one of the most widely used over-the-counter drugs, and there is much confusion over whether it is beneficial or detrimental to your health. The short answer: it depends on your circumstances, including your family history and consideration of diseases you are at high risk of developing. 

Several studies have been published – some touting alcohol’s health benefits, with others warning of its risks. The diseases addressed by these studies include breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Remember, context is the determining factor for alcohol intake.

Breast Cancer Impact

In a meta-analysis of 113 studies, there was an increased risk of breast cancer with daily consumption of alcohol (1). The increase was a modest, but statistically significant, four percent, and the effect was seen at one drink or less a day. The authors warned that women who are at high risk of breast cancer should not drink alcohol or should drink it only occasionally.

It was also shown in the Nurses’ Health Study that drinking three to six glasses a week increases the risk of breast cancer modestly over a 28-year period (2). This study involved over 100,000 women. Even a half-glass of alcohol was associated with a 15 percent elevated risk of invasive breast cancer. The risk was dose-dependent, with one to two drinks per day increasing risk to 22 percent, while those having three or more drinks per day had a 51 percent increased risk.

Alcohol’s impact on breast cancer risk is being actively studied, considering types of alcohol, as well as other mitigating factors that may increase or decrease risk. We still have much to learn.

Based on what we think we know, if you are going to drink, a drink several times a week may have the least impact on breast cancer. According to an accompanying editorial, alcohol may work by increasing the levels of sex hormones, including estrogen, and we don’t know if stopping diminishes the effect, although it might (3).

Stroke Effects

On the positive side, the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrated a decrease in the risk of both ischemic (caused by clots) and hemorrhagic (caused by bleeding) strokes with low to moderate amounts of alcohol (4). This analysis involved over 83,000 women. Those who drank less than a half-glass of alcohol daily were 17 percent less likely than nondrinkers to experience a stroke. Those who consumed one-half to one-and-a-half glasses a day had a 23 percent decreased risk of stroke, compared to nondrinkers. 

However, women who consumed more experienced a decline in benefit, and drinking three or more glasses daily resulted in a non-significant increased risk of stroke. The reasons for alcohol’s benefits in stroke have been postulated to involve an anti-platelet effect (preventing clots) and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Patients shouldn’t drink alcohol solely to get stroke protection benefits. 

Moderation is the key.
METRO photo

Heart effects

In the Health Professionals follow-up study, there was a substantial decrease in the risk of death after a heart attack from any cause, including heart disease, in men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol compared to those who drank more or were non-drinkers (5). Those who drank less than one glass daily experienced a 22 percent risk reduction, while those who drank one-to-two glasses saw a 34 percent risk reduction. The authors mention that binge drinking negates any benefits. This study has a high durability spanning 20 years.

Citrus benefits rival alcohol benefits for stroke risk

An analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study recently showed that those who consumed more citrus fruits had approximately a 19 percent reduction in stroke risk (6). These results were similar to the reduction seen in the Nurses’ Health Study with modest amounts of alcohol.

The citrus fruits used most often in this study were oranges and grapefruits. Of note, grapefruit may interfere with medications such as Plavix (clopidogrel), a commonly used antiplatelet medication used to prevent strokes (7). Grapefruit inhibits the CYP3A4 system in the liver, thus increasing the levels of certain medications.

Alcohol in Moderation

Moderation is the key. It is very important to remember that alcohol is a drug that does have side effects, including insomnia. The American Heart Association recommends that women drink up to one glass a day of alcohol. I would say that less is more. To get the stroke benefits and avoid the increased breast cancer risk, half a glass of alcohol per day may be the ideal amount for women. Moderate amounts of alcohol for men are up to two glasses daily, though one glass showed significant benefits. 

Remember, there are other ways of reducing your risk of these maladies that don’t require alcohol. However, if you enjoy alcohol, moderate amounts may reap some health benefits.


(1) Alc and Alcoholism. 2012;47(3)3:204–212. (2) JAMA. 2011;306:1884-1890. (3) JAMA. 2011;306(17):1920-1921. (4) Stroke. 2012;43:939–945. (5) Eur Heart J. Published online March 28, 2012. (6) Stroke. 2012;43:946–951. (7) Medscape.com.

Dr. David 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. 

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

There are few greater aromas in the world than the smell of bacon sizzling in a frying pan. In fact, bacon’s mystical “sizzling sound” is reminiscent of the pattering of rain striking the ground.

Bacon in one form or another is made throughout the world in a multitude of forms, styles, flavors, and names. Bacon refers to cured pork from the belly, back or side of a hog. American bacon is mostly cured pork belly that’s salted, cold smoked, and cooked before eating.

Besides pork, you can find chicken, duck, and turkey bacon. We are all familiar with the salty, thin pink strips of streaky fat bacon we buy in supermarkets. But there is also Canadian bacon (back bacon), Irish bacon, rashers (British bacon), Asian bacon, and even vegan bacon. Let’s add to the list guanciale and pancetta from Italy.

Flavors of bacon include apple smoked, pepper-coated, maple syrup, honey, jalapeño, barbecued, Cajun, apple cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, dill pickle, and even chocolate!

To help guide your wine choice, the bacon being paired is American-made, smoked, regular thin cut, cooked medium to slightly crispy, leaving some fat behind for added texture and flavor.

Now, if you like to wrap your foods with bacon; scallops, filet of beef, chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, asparagus, dates, or even hot dogs, other wines can be served with it.

Bacon, although a white meat (pork), has immense rich, chewy, and hearty flavors that are reminiscent of red meat. Bacon is the best of both worlds; it can pair with red and white wine, and even chilled rosés.

Words such as “bacon,” “bacon fat” or “smoked meats” are descriptors for certain red wines (Mourvèdre and Syrah) especially from the Rhône Valley of France. Other red wines that often display the bacon smell are Pinotage (South Africa), Schiava Grossa (Italy), and Shiraz (Australia and South Africa).

Bacon’s salt and fat components pair well with dry sparkling wines and those fruity wines (red and white) with fairly high acidity. Two often overlooked wines that pair well are chilled rosé and white Zinfandel.

Other wines that pair with bacon are (whites) Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Scheurebe, and Sylvaner. Red wines are Barbera, Beaujolais (Gamay), Lambrusco, and Pinot Noir.

For vodka lovers, there is a bacon-flavored vodka and an interesting beer from Franken, Germany known as Rauchbier, which has a smoky, bacon-like aroma and flavor.

In closing, there is no such thing as too much bacon and everything does tastes better with bacon.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He consults and 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].

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].

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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].