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Pick up a bottle of Sparkling Point on your next visit to Stirling Sake in Greenport. (Credit: David Benthal)

Remember the days when dinner was a protein-starch-veggie affair? There’s no shame if you can’t. Food may still sustain us, but these days it’s also meant to entertain us.

Blame the millennials, Instagram and wine and food subscription services, but experiential dining is now at the head of the table.

The Long Island restaurant scene has become more creative — putting a greater emphasis on shareable conversation-starting tapas, local ingredients and plating dishes so artistically they look almost too good to eat. 

And the Long Island wine trail that stretches across the North Fork has followed suit, breaking down previously held stereotypes that the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley were home to New York’s finest wines (case in point: Sparkling Pointe was named New York State’s Co-Winery of the Year in 2017.)

When blended together, local chefs and winemakers have uncorked ways to turn a night out into a buzzworthy event, complete with perfect wine and food pairings.

As the East End prepares for peak season, we asked local winemakers for their favorite pairings. They shared dishes from Hamptons and North Fork restaurants that, when enjoyed with one of their wines, form the ultimate power couple.

Vintner: Gilles Martin, Sparkling Pointe

Restaurant: Sterling Sake

Dish: Assorted sushi platter

Wine: Sparkling Pointe Brut

Why they’re perfect together: “High-quality sushi is wonderful for its complexity, texture and bright flavors accompanied by the salty soy sauce,” Martin said. “[I immediately look] for a wine with high acidity and equally bright flavors. The Sparkling Pointe Brut won’t overwhelm the delicate seafood, but each sip will cleanse the palate and allow you to experience the nuance that great sushi offers.”

Vintner: Richard Olsen-Harbich, Bedell Cellars

Restaurant: North Fork Table & Inn

Dish: Crescent Farms duck breast “made with sunchokes, chanterelles, Swiss chard and sumac, it’s a fantastic ensemble of local ingredients — a quintessential North Fork dish,” Olsen-Harbich said.

Wine: 2017 Taste Nouveau

Why they’re perfect together: “It’s fruity and juicy with lots of red berry [and] strawberry flavors which work well with the rich, herbal flavors of the duck,” Olsen-Harbich said. “It’s red but it’s very soft and low in tannin and alcohol, which allows it to work with the flavors and not compete against them.”

Vintner: Anthony Nappa, Raphael Vineyard & Winery

Restaurant: Caci North Fork “[Chef Marco Pellegrini] is from Umbria, a landlocked provence in Italy,” Nappa said. “Because of this, his food is authentic, rustic and rich with a lot of earthy flavors, sauces, gamey meats and of course truffles! [It’s] perfect for this time of year, rich and hearty for winter and spring.”

Dish: Housemade taglierini with puttanesca sauce and sea scallops

Wine: 2013 Primo Reserve blend

Why they’re perfect together: “[Pellegrini’s] food pairs great with full-bodied reds and can carry the wine through the meal,” Nappa said. The 2013 Primo Reserve blend fits the bill. Said Nappa “The rich, full-bodied red blend is fruit forward but spicy…[and has] a long, dry finish [and] plenty of balanced oak and acid [that] pairs nicely with food.”

Vintner: Roman Roth, Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Restaurant: Wölffer Kitchen

Dish: Long Island duck hash

Wine: Finca Wölffer Rosé 2017

Why they’re perfect together: “The Finca Wölffer Rosé is so light and elegant that it is a great complement to so many styles of food,” Roth said. “The hint of salt and lime zest in the finish is just a delight when paired with the duck and fried egg.”

Vintner: Anthony Sannino, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard

Restaurant: Touch of Venice

Dish: Bistecca Tuscany: Certified Angus NY strip steak, Sicilian olive oil, lemon, garlic, parsley, broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes

Wine: 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Why they’re perfect together: “The fruitiness of my cabernet sauvignon complements the herbs and tender petals of the artichoke,” Sannino said “The tannins of the wine soften and a roundness is gained when enjoyed with the richness of the perfectly grilled Bistecca.”