Of all the foods that aficionados can be snooty about, the potential snootiest of them all isn’t even a food: it’s wine. Books upon books are written throughout the ages about the subtleties of flavor of wines around the world; an entire vernacular has been created just to describe how a wine smells, how it tastes on the palette. Respectable restaurants will hire someone for the sole purpose of selecting the best wines from around the world and presenting them to their patrons. And the livelihood of an entire winery can be based on one errant rainfall or a too-sunny day during the summer. That’s absolutely crazy to me, who doesn’t drink a whole lot, and when I do, it’s usually never a glass of wine. (And when it is, I go for super-sweet “bad” wines. I admit it, slap me on the wrist, I drink white zinfandel.)
I didn’t quite know how to approach this national food holiday for the blog; I mean, how can you tell what restaurant in New York serves the best wine, when there are so many criteria for fine wine, and so many restaurants serve the same high-quality bottles? But since this blog is all about finding the local New York City spots for food holidays, I decided to stay local, and focus on wines made within New York State. You may not think of New York as a big wine producer, but we’re the third largest wine state in the country (next to California and Washington)! Vineyards have been sprinkled throughout Long Island, the Finger Lakes, and the Hudson Valley since the 17th century, but only in the past 50 years has winemaking been a commercial endeavor in the state. A ton of wine varieties are grown and manufactured here, from Riesling and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir and Cabernet. There are over 900 vineyards in New York State and over 200 wineries! And they say you have to go to the West Coast for a good glass of wine, psh!
You may think you have to head out to Long Island, or even up to the Finger Lakes, to taste some of the best wines New York has to offer, and while that may be a good day trip on the LIRR, you can still stay in the boroughs and enjoy fine New York wine. While a lot of New York City restaurants don’t tend to stock New York State wine, others, like Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn, choose to celebrate the local wine flavor, and make New York wines the highlights of their wine list. About one quarter of their wine list is devoted to local wines from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, stressing Buttermilk Channel’s insistence on locally-sourced food–including the wine you drink. This commitment to local foods has caught the attention of many food blogs and critics, even the New York Times, who applauds Buttermilk Channel’s decision to stock the local spirits. They even have a Merlot on the list straight out of Red Hook, Brooklyn–now that’s what I call a local wine!
524 Court St (between Nelson St & Huntington St), Carroll Gardens
“And the restaurant goes a few local-and-seasonal paces better than many other local-and-seasonal avatars by stocking only New York State beers. About a quarter of its wine list, meanwhile, is devoted to vintages from the Finger Lakes, the North Fork and the Hamptons. All of this makes Buttermilk Channel a restaurant of real standards, noteworthy ambition and uncommon slavishness to trends. It’s laudable and predictable in equal measures. And it was packed every time I went.”–The New York Times
“Doug Cromwell worked with Master Sommeliers at Blue Water Grill and Blue Fin before opening his own place in Carroll Gardens earlier this year. Because he wanted wines consonant with his Brooklyn-centric menu, he limited his list to the 50 states, with particular attention to New York. With several slate-y Finger Lakes Rieslings, a cache of Long Island Cabernet Franc, and Merlot from Red Hook’s own Brooklyn Oenology ($10 a glass) in the offering, the menu tilts local in the best possible way.”–Tasting Table
“There’s a lot of polished Cab Franc coming out of long island, but Schneider has found a way to channel Chinon, birthing wines with a little more grit and earthiness. Easily some of the best wine coming out of LI.”–Eater.com
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I started with a glass of red wine from Finger Lakes, NY. A Cabernet Franc. Delish! I can’t recall ever having a NY wine before. I love the local option.”–Nikki S.
“The wine and beer list is extensive and made to make any native New Yorker proud – All their beers are New York State, and a handful of their wines are too – Mostly Long Island and Finger Lakes. We ordered a very reasonably priced bottle of North Fork wine which was exquisite and I couldn’t get over how lovely the presentation of everything was.”–Justin S.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!