Local Quaffing

uncorkedDid you know that wine grapes have recently passed potatoes as Long Island’s biggest crop? The formidable Wine Advocate devoted 16 pages to Long Island wine country in a 2006 issue, showering 90+ scores on many wines and suggesting that “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” The tasting panel of the New York Times has begun to follow the region more closely. And while it’s the rare restaurant or bar whose tap doesn’t include several local microbrews, such high patronage hasn’t yet developed for the burgeoning wine region only two hours’ drive from Kings County. (Technically speaking, Brooklyn is part of Long Island.)

For curious Brooklynites, more than 30 wineries from the Hamptons and North Fork of Long Island will be pouring their selections at the first annual Brooklyn Uncorked at the BAMcafé on May 16. (This magazine is a proud cosponsor of the event.) For $30, attendees get to sample the region’s steely chardonnays, strawy sauvignon blancs, yeasty sparkling wine, fruity cab francs, nuanced merlots, and dozens of other varietals. There will also be local cheese, bread, honey and dried fruit to sample, as well as two Long Island oystermen shucking their harvest. (To buy tickets, see ediblebrooklyn.net.)

Getting to taste from the winemaker directly “enhances your appreciation and knowledge tremendously,” according to Amy Bennett, owner of the Greene Grape wine shop in Fort Greene, which started a New York Cork Club to expose members to the extraordinary variety of New York wine. Not to mention the fact that being able to taste many wines at one time is the best way to learn what you like. “Drinking locally puts city folk in touch with nature and the seasons,” Bennett adds. “You may be reminded of the summer heat wave years ago when you pick up your glass and taste the effect on the grapes and how the winemaker has chosen to reflect it.”