Amy Racine always knew she wanted to be in the food world.
“My parents drank wine with every meal — in a healthy way,” Racine said. “And on special occasions, or on Sundays, when we usually had family over and we’d do big ‘production meals’ the kids were allowed to have a glass, like a half of one with ice.”
But Racine didn’t realize that wine was something she could focus on professionally until she got to the Culinary Institute of America, where she joined their accelerated wine program in Napa Valley. Racine was part of the first class of a 9-month wine and beverage course.
“At the end, they introduced us to the Court of Master Sommeliers and we went through that. They pretty much guaranteed that, as long as you studied, you’d come out certified,” she said.
Today, Racine is the Beverage Director of John Fraser’s JF Restaurants, including North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, and was named Esquire’s Beverage Director of the Year in 2021.
In this series, we’re sitting down with sommeliers working across the North Fork to pick their brains and hope our readers will absorb some of what they know.
What’s it like working on the North Fork?
I love it. I worked and lived in Napa, which is iconic for the United States. When I moved here, I realized how exciting it was. There’s totally different grapes here than California. When we took over North Fork Table & Inn we invited winemakers to come meet with us. It felt like these new winemakers were coming in and breaking tradition. They weren’t reinventing, because they were staying true to the North Fork, but trying new things. I feel like in the two years we’ve been out here, it’s become even more well-known outside of the North Fork.
Talk about developing a local wine list at North Fork Table & Inn.
We strive to have the biggest collection of North Fork-specific wines. We don’t have South Fork on the list. We want to support what’s around us. And there’s so much variety! There’s never a moment where I’m like, man, I wish we had some aromatic white grapes out here, or I wish we had some more like structured Bordeaux blends.
What food do you like to pair rosé with and why?
I think of rosé as an aperitif. So anything at the beginning of the meal — canapes, snacks, salads, ceviches, crudos, even fried items like calamari. There’s so much acidity to them that it cuts through fat so well.
What grape varietal do you think is going to blow up in the next few years?
I can’t speak to anybody that’s planting more of it, but One Woman Wines has a grüner veltliner that I love and people love dry, crisp whites at many points throughout the week. I think sauvignon blanc is tried and true but people are ready to explore other stuff.