Winemakers’ picks to complement favorite summer pastimes

North Fork summers present plenty of reasons to raise a glass — from dinners with waterfront views, catching sunsets on the beach and seafood that can hold its own with other East Coast regions.

And when it comes to finding a bottle of wine, North Forkers need not look further than their own backyards.

North Fork vineyards have cellars full of wines ready for everything our region’s high season throws at us. We spoke to local vintners for picks for every summer occasion, from clambakes on the beach to backyard soirées. 

Date Night Al Fresco

2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Paumanok

Like a perfect date night, this Long Island wine hits all the right notes.

“It is fresh, crisp, vivacious and light in body and pairs well with the bounty of the seas that surround us,” said Paumanok vintner Kareem Massoud. Try it with one of Massoud’s favorite summer meals for a match made in heaven. Start with a spinach salad topped with fresh chèvre from Catapano Farms in Southold and a lemon-based vinaigrette (sans vinegar). For the main course, opt for local flounder done with herbs, cooking wine and a squeeze of lemon to play off the acidity in the Sauv Blanc. Serve with a side of North Fork vegetables.

Backyard Barbecue

2017 Rosé, Macari

Barbecues tend to call for hearty red meats like ribs, steaks and burgers, which traditionalists say should be enjoyed with red wine or beer. But if there’s ever a time to ignore the rules, it’s during the carefree days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Macari’s latest 2017 rosé is part malbec, part petit verdot, part pinot noir and completely summer. The aromas of strawberry and watermelon and fresh, vibrant palate make this wine easy to sip on its own poolside, and the crisp acidity allows it to stand up to fattier meats. It’s no surprise that winemaker Kelly Koch’s suggested food pairings run the gamut: watermelon, burgers, pulled pork, lobster rolls, grilled vegetables — basically, anything goes.

Dinner Party

2017 Viognier, Pindar

Summertime dining tends to be easygoing, but there’s nothing wrong with getting all dressed up once in a while, especially if you’re playing host at a milestone birthday celebration or pre-wedding party. Pindar’s soon-to-be-released 2017 Viognier is like a versatile guest — it can hang with anything from fresh local oysters on the half to after-dinner cheese, said winemaker Erik Bilka. “The palate is well-structured with lively acidity but round and rich at the same time,” he said. “Look for peach, pear and nice minerality with a lingering finish.”

Baseball Game

2017 Mojo, Shinn Estate Vineyards

Beer is often considered the classic adult beverage of America’s pastime, but wine fans can go ahead and trade hops for grapes. Shinn Estate’s Mojo, the vineyard’s unoaked cabernet franc, draws cheers from the crowd for its fruit-forward taste, which teams up nicely with burgers and hot dogs. Unlike Mets fans after April 30, this wine isn’t brooding — vintner Patrick Caserta suggested serving the light-bodied vino slightly chilled, making it a perfect red for summer. Hesitant to sip a red with the temperature over 70? C’mon, the warm-means-white rule is as antiquated as pitchers batting.

Clambake on the Beach

2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Bridge Lane

When you think about it, this summer occasion serves as a reminder that we live where others vacation, with easy access to the beach and just-harvested seafood. Keep things no-fuss by forgoing the corkscrew and glass and throwing cans of Bridge Lane in a cooler. Winemaker Russell Hearn’s notes call it “light, fresh and fruity,” an ideal profile for pairing with lightly seasoned bounty that relies more on freshness than frills.

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