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Unscrewed: Get Him to the Greek (grape!) Moschofilero

 

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Greek flag fluttering off the back of a ferry

If you missed my post on Unscrewed last week, here is your second chance:

It’s time to add a new grape to your repertoire and order a seemingly unpronounceable variety (see rule #2).

Despite the dreary economic situation, Greece has long been associated with the sybaritic lifestyle, attracting like-minded voluptuaries to places like Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. Plus, Greek variety names sound seriously sexy rolling off the tongue, so let’s indulge our hedonistic streak and try a glass of Moschofilero (moh-skoh-FEE-leh-roh).

This grape is grown primarily in the high, cool Mantinia plateau in central Peloponnese, and produces dry white wines that are light in alcohol (between 11.5 to 12 percent), but intensely perfumed with wild florals, spice, stone fruits, and citrus notes on a racy, fresh palate.

Greece boasts 6,500 years of wine-making on its résumé. But a lack of international awareness (partially due to the fairly recent revitalization of the industry) means there are undervalued bottles hiding throughout the city’s wine shops. If you ask me, Greek wines are going to be the next big thing, so taste them while they’re still under the radar and cheap:

Where to try:

Moschofilero at The Immigrant

The wine list is quite short at The Immigrant, a very intimate, very dark East Village establishment, but it covers some interesting territory. Although I take issue with its thick-lipped wine glasses — I prefer mine sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel — the Moschofilero is a perfect tipple on a balmy night: fresh, mouth-watering acidity with intense aromatics of pear, peach, and white flowers followed by lingering citrus pith on the palate. Antonopoulos Vineyards, Moschofilero, Arkadia, Peloponnese (Greece) $11/glass

Where to buy: 

Sherry-Lehman carries Boutari, Mantinia Moschofilero (Greece) 2011 $12.95. Boutari is a leader in the Greek wine renaissance and considered one of the best (and biggest) producers, making its wines easier to find in the States. While Uva in Williamsburg carries Nikiforou, Moschofilero (Greece) 2010 at a steal — just $10.

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Unscrewed: 5 New York Rosés to drink before they are gone

If you didn’t see my Village Voice column “Unscrewed” last week, here’s another opportunity to find out 5 of my favorite New York rosés from Long Island to catch before summer ends. Hurry, only another week before Labor Day! Of course, you can drink rosé all year in my opinion.

rose_collage.jpgAs summer winds down (or up, depending on your plans), it’s time to celebrate the pink drink that fuels fantasies of seaside, Provençal retreats. If I had a garden hose that spouted such watermelon-hued berry bliss, I would fill a pool and host a fête. Alas, no such aquifer exists; the best we can do is visit the gorgeous vineyards of Long Island or pick up some chilled bottles and take the party to Sheep Meadow — discreetly, of course.

A chilled glass of rosé appeals to drinkers of white and red — it refreshes while offering fruit and body to pair with all manner of foods. Wolffer Estate in Bridgehampton might be the most prolific and well-known rosé producer out of the East End, but there are many others to seek out. Below are my five favorites to enjoy right now, before summer’s end.

Keep in mind that though our demand for rosé has grown, local production remains small. A helpful note on finding my five picks: You can buy them directly from the wineries (in-person or on their websites), try your local wine store like Astor Wines and Spirits in NYC, or check out Empire State Cellars (the only all NY wine shop) which ships to NYC for a flat $10 fee.

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Lauren Mowery

Channing Daughters (South Fork) 2011 Rosato di Lagrein ($20). Purplish-pink and brimming with flavor, this dry, 100 percent Lagrein rosé is crisp, floral, fruity, and spicy, all in one sip.

Channing Daughters made eight variations of rosé, both from well-known grapes such as Merlot to more esoteric varietals (at least for Long Island) like Lagrein. Hues range from pale tangerine to pink flamingo, and are as pretty sitting on the table as they are in the glass. Tastings are inside at the bar, but there is a shaded patio that faces the vineyards with several benches. About half the rosati are sold out, so check their website. Channing Daughters focuses largely on Northern Italian varietals and has an intriguing lineup of whites, reds, and orange wines to explore, should you (gasp) tire of rosé.

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Lauren Mowery

Peconic Bay (North Fork) NV Nautique Esprit de Rosé ($9.99). 50/50 Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, this dry, medium-bodied wine is redolent of muddled strawberries, dried herbs, orange peel, and tea leaves.

Peconic features an indoor tasting bar and outdoor, shaded patio with plentiful seating, and live music on weekends. In addition to the Nautique rosé, a great value at $9.99 (or $99 a case), I highly recommend their whites. The Riesling and Gewurztraminer are exceptional North Fork examples of these grapes.

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Lauren Mowery

Paumanok (North Fork) 2011 Dry Rosé ($17.99). A blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Pale persimmon in color and highly aromatic, with pronounced strawberry-rhubarb notes on the refreshing, zippy palate.

Paumanok has a large deck overlooking the vineyards and allows outside picnic food. They have a well-regarded lineup of whites and reds, including a Chenin Blanc. Their Tuthill Lane reds are great examples of the depths Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can reach in Long Island in an excellent vintage, albeit pricey at $60 a bottle.

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Lauren Mowery

Mattebella Vineyards (North Fork) 2011 Dry Rosé ($18). Mostly Merlot with a splash of Cab Franc. This dry, pale pink, lighter-bodied wine smells and tastes like a garden in full-bloom showing herbs, flowers and plump, red fruits with balanced acidity.

Mattebella evokes a lawn party at a friend’s rustic country cottage, with a smattering of tables scattered outside. The owners are hands-on and friendly, and will happily share with you the joys and frustrations of owning a vineyard. They make several other wines, including Chardonnay and old-world-style red blends. The 2011 rosé was picked up by Jean-George Vongerichten’s flagship restaurant as the house pour.

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Lauren Mowery

Croteaux Vineyards (North Fork) 2011 Merlot 314 Rosé ($19). Salmon-hued, medium-bodied, and dry, this juicy, merlot-based wine shows notes of melon, apple, dried lavender, and roses, with sea-salt woven throughout.

Specializing in rosé only, Croteaux made 12 versions for 2012. Their tasting garden is gorgeous — think romantic French countryside. Prices range from $19 for their signature merlot based wines up to $30 for fuller-bodied versions. Croteaux is releasing a new rosé at the end of summer called Voyage for only $16. Yay, rosé in the fall!

Dog owners should note that Croteaux Vineyards, Peconic Bay, Paumanok, and Mattebella Vineyards are all dog friendly!

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Unscrewed: Ten Tips for Wine Rookies

The Pinot Pimp of Brogan Cellars

Perhaps you have seen my new gig at the Village Voice as weekly wine columnist for Unscrewed. If not, here is my first post—ten tips for improving your personal wine program.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2012/08/10_tips_wine_rookies.php

1. Be curious. There is no shame in learning, only in pretending to know what you don’t.

2. Order stuff you can’t pronounce. Or rather, don’t not order wine because you can’t eloquently articulate the name. I took Spanish, not French, and I certainly didn’t study Greek (Agiorgitiko: I can finally say this one–a-your-yay-teeko!) The sommelier and store clerk don’t give a crap if you mispronounce something and are more likely thrilled they can share their wine geekdom with someone.

3. Drink more white wine. Drink it in the winter. Drink it with meat (maybe not with a porterhouse). Whites can be amazingly complex or lovely for their simplicity. They are better for sipping than reds, which often need food to shine due to their tannins.

4. Treat yourself. Every now and then, spend a little more on your vino. I’ll be suggesting wonderful, inexpensive bottles here, but keep in mind that many small wineries that make interesting wines can’t afford to sell them to us for $9.99.

5. Don’t drink trendy wines. Just because celeb-driven restaurants and bars push certain brands at 20x wholesale (Hello, Whispering Angel?), doesn’t mean the wines are higher quality. Drink a wine because you like it.

6. Visit local wineries when you travel. This adds a fun dimension to your trip, gives you a local’s insight to the region — winemakers usually give great restaurant recs! — and you just might discover something tasty that you can’t find back home. Unless you are in New Jersey. They still haven’t figured out how to make tasty wine there. Sorry NJ!

7. Take a trip to the North Fork. We have wine country in our backyard, less than two hours away, and some of the wines are pretty darn good.

8. Taste a new varietal. Put down that Cab Sauv from California! How about Plavac Mali from Croatia? Hárslevelű from Hungary? Or something less challenging and easier to find, like Australian Riesling?

9. Try new regions. Italy alone produces hundreds of varietals beyond
Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. Tuscany is great, but so is Friuli. And Puglia. And Trentino-Alto Adige. Ask your favorite wine shop to help you on this quest.

10. Have fun! Wine isn’t meant to intimidate you. Even a Master of Wine can’t taste and recollect every wine in the world, so nobody expects you to either.

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