Your Complete Guide to Long Island Rosé

You can learn a lot about wine by reading books, browsing the internet, or even taking classes, but the best way to learn more about wine – and more importantly, understand which wines you love and why – is to taste as much wine as possible.

With summer just around the corner, now is the time to sample as much rosé as possible, explore the myriad of locally made styles, and find your favorites. Long Island rosé is fresh, fun and as comfortable at the table as it is at the beach, on the boat or by the pool. Plus, it pairs beautifully with all the fresh local produce and foods that we are starting to enjoy again.

There are almost as many ways to organize and host such a tasting as there are grape varieties. But that’s how I made them in my own home.

Keep the guest list small.

I try not to invite too many people, and not just for the sake of social distancing. I usually max out at six. No more than that and a single bottle of each wine may not be enough (plus I don’t have endless glassware).

Share the costs.

Exploring even a single grape from the same region means tasting at least six (and up to 12 or more) bottles, depending on how cheesy you want it to be. This can mean spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars for certain varieties of wine. To try as many wines as possible without breaking the bank, ask everyone present to contribute money or bring a suitable bottle for tasting.

Avoid strong smells.

Now is not the time to take out your scented candles: even the most delicate scents can be bothersome when trying to smell and taste wine. Give your friends a gentle reminder not to wear perfume or cologne when tasting.

A white tablecloth.

I like being able to watch the wine. If you have one handy, a white – or at least a light colored – background really makes it easier for you.

Matching glassware.

I’ve attended tastings with up to 12 glasses in front of me – and it’s kinda crazy. I like three drinks per person. If you taste more than three wines, divide them into flights. Not all glasses have to match, but each person’s set of glasses should be the same. Eliminating variables is important, and you want the only difference to be the wine itself.

Water and a spittoon.

Water is a must. Even if you don’t plan on spitting out the wines while tasting them, you’ll want the water to stay hydrated and help reset your palate between wines. And giving your guests some sort of spit or dump bucket for pouring unwanted wine between flights means they don’t need to finish something they don’t like.

Something to eat.

If you want to take this very seriously, limit yourself to simple crackers and sliced ​​plain bread, as strongly flavored foods can affect your perception of wine. Like water, a bite of bread will help cool your palate between wines and also prevent you from consuming wine on an empty stomach. That said, serving your meal while tasting can also be fun. Seeing how different wines pair with different foods is educational, not to mention delicious. Cold meats and cheese are always good with rosé. (We’ve paired our local rosé with local goodies, including macaroons from North Fork Flour Shoppe and a cheese board from Lombardi’s Love Lane Market in Mattituck.)

A note pad.

Even if you only taste for fun, provide crayons and paper for your friends to jot down their impressions of each wine. Or you can download more formal tasting sheets that allow guests to rate wines, which also makes it easy for them to remember and purchase their favorite wines after tasting.

Blind tasting is up to you.

If you want to eliminate any prejudices or preconceptions about the wineries you pour out, you can use paper bags or even foil to cover the bottles. But it’s fine if you decide not to.

Pour two to three ounces.

One-half to one-third of a standard pour is enough to smell and taste the wine, but not so much that you won’t have enough left to come back for a drink later if you want to.

Remember, no one is wrong.

You might think one of the rosés tastes like watermelon. One friend might say strawberries and another might say cherries. Some wine snobs would dispute this point, but you can all be right. We taste what we taste and we like what we like. I always enjoy seeing which bottle flows the fastest once the tasting is over. It is not always the wine which is judged “the best” by the group.

(Photo credit: David Benthal)
Our wine columnist tried more than two cases to find the right blend. Don’t try this at home! (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Six Long Island Rosés for your tasting at home

To help decide which wines to include here, I tasted over two cases of Long Island rosé, mostly from the 2020 vintage. I tasted very dry rosé. I have tasted sweeter styles. Some even added fruit flavors. I chose these six because they are different enough to be perfect for side-by-side tasting. (Ask a well-stocked local wine store, like Greenport Wines & Spirits or Vintage Mattituck, to help you blend these wines or another blend of contrasting rosés.)

Croteaux Vineyards 2020 Merlot 181 Rosé (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Croteaux Vineyards 2020 Merlot 181 Rosé

You can’t talk about Long Island rosé without talking about Merlot or Croteaux – the only winery in the region focused exclusively on rosé. 181 refers to the Merlot clone (a French) and this wine shows more complexity than most 100% Merlot rosés. It’s fresh and lighter, with flavors of just ripe strawberries accented by notes of white peach and floral herbs. $ 29

Dry Rosé Paumanok Vineyards 2020 (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Paumanok Vineyards 2020 Dry Rosé

Much of the local rosé is made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, three of Bordeaux’s main grape varieties. This one is ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon (47%) and is a bit bolder than some of the others on the list. Very fruity up front – think ripe strawberries and red raspberries – with flavorful layers of dried herbs, spices and a splash of lime juice. $ 20

Lenz Winery 2020 Firefly Rosé (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Lenz Winery 2020 Firefly Rosé

This is another Bordeaux varietal rosé before Cabernet Sauvignon, but a heavy dose of Malbec brings a unique (and delicious) tropical fruit quality that made it stand out when I tasted it. The unique complexity of the fruity flavor is fully evidenced here with flavors of strawberry, tangerine, passion fruit and papaya. $ 20

Wölffer Estate 2020 Estate Rosé (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Wölffer Estate 2020 Estate Rosé

This is another Bordeaux varietal rosé before Cabernet Sauvignon, but a heavy dose of Malbec brings a unique (and delicious) tropical fruit quality that made it stand out when I tasted it. The unique complexity of the fruity flavor is fully evidenced here with flavors of strawberry, tangerine, passion fruit and papaya. $ 20

Jamesport Vineyards 2020 East End Rosé (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Jamesport Vineyards 2020 East End Rosé

Made from 100% Syrah, it’s sprinkled with white pepper over a blend of fruits, including ripe peaches, raspberries and musk melon. It’s fuller bodied than most of the wines on this list with nice, flavorful spices that really come through as it warms up a bit in the glass. $ 33

Anthony Nappa Wines 2020 Pinot Noir Blanc (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Anthony Nappa Wines 2020 Pinot Noir White

Perhaps my favorite of all the wines I’ve tasted for this story, this full-bodied 100% pinot noir rosé screams pinot noir as soon as you raise the glass, with its berry fruits and slightly earthy, spicy side. Although light in color, it has a great concentration of fruit flavors and the finish is long and elegant. $ 20

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