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The frigid winds of a Long Island winter have us longing to sit by the fire in a comfortable chair, glass of wine in hand. But what should we drink?

To help answer that question, we asked East End food and wine industry pros to share what they’ll be sipping this winter, along with recommended food pairings.

Macari Vineyards’ Collina Chardonnay, $13

Macari VIneyards Collina. (Credit: Krysten Massa)
Macari Vineyards Collina Chardonnay. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

My go-to wine is Macari’s Collina Chardonnay, although it is hard to pick a favorite with so many wonderful options. Maybe I am in search of an endless summer, but I like a glass of white wine on the colder side of 50 degrees and the Collina holds its flavor perfectly. The other night I paired it with chef Eric’s sauteed Peconic Bay Scallops with butternut squash risotto, goat cheese and shiitake mushrooms. An altogether wonderful meal!

Janice Claudio, Claudio’s

Lieb Cellars’ 2015 Bridge Lane White Merlot, $16

Bridge Lane White Merlot. (Credit: Krysten Massa)
Bridge Lane 2015 White Merlot. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

I just tried Lieb Cellars’ 2015 Bridge Lane White Merlot and loved it! It’s dry and food friendly. The surprising notes of salted fruit and the wonderful finish make it easy to drink and pair. I am excited to try this one with spicy Mexican or Asian dishes.

Nicolette Diodati, marketing coordinator, Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Pellegrini Vineyards’ 2014 Gewurztraminer, $25

Pellegrini Vineyards Gewürztraminer. (credit: Krysten Massa)
Pellegrini Vineyards Gewürztraminer. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

During wintertime, I love to sip the 2014 Gewurztraminer from Pellegrini. It is aromatic and offers notes of passion fruit and caramel on the palate. It’s amazing paired with North Fork Chocolate Company’s gingerbread bon bon. The flavor match is quite surprising!

Ann Corley, co-owner, North Fork Chocolate Company

Castello di Borghese 2014 Cabernet Franc, $35

Castello di Borghese. (Credit: Krysten Massa)
Castello di Borghese 2014 Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

My favorite is the Castello di Borghese 2014 Cabernet Franc. Its style honors the traditional nuances of the region and it has a really nice price point at $35 per bottle. I love the peppery finish of this wine and plan to enjoy it all winter by the fire with things like Hungarian goulash and braised short ribs.

Jennilee Morris, executive chef and co-owner, Grace and Grit, and co-owner, North Fork Roasting Co.

Lieb Cellars’ 2013 Reserve Dessert Wine, $35

Lieb Cellars. (Credit: Krysten Massa)
Lieb Cellars 2013 Reserve Dessert Wine. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

[Lieb Cellars 2013 Reserve Dessert Wine] is one of my favorite pairings when I host wine dinners featuring an artfully crafted dessert course. I love enjoying a dessert wine that has both sweetness to balance the dessert and acid to keep it refreshing. This wine is a blend of sauvignon blanc (citrus fruit), pinot blanc (body) and riesling (aromatics) partially fermented in oak — a beautiful blend. As for a food pairing, Lauren Lombardi makes a ridiculously good schiacciata alla fiorentin (Italian orange sponge cake) that, when paired with a dessert wine, is a sommelier’s dream.

Robin Epperson-McCarthy, owner and winemaker, Saltbird Cellars

T’Jara 2010 Reserve, $35

T'Jara. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
T’Jara 2010 Reserve. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Made by winemaker Russell Hearn, T’Jara is a boutique Long Island brand. Once it is discovered, it is hard to forget.  The 2010 Reserve is a bold red blend that offers a smooth, rich finish. It exemplifies the quality that can be achieved from the region. T’Jara wines can be tasted at The Winemaker Studio in Peconic or purchased at a variety of wine shops listed at

Kelly Tuthill, advertising and marketing manager, Martha Clara Vineyards

This story was originally published in the winter 2017 edition of the Long Island Wine Press