#26 Spring BREAK

The crocuses have been trying to announce spring, but they’ve been stop and go in the northeast. Maybe the forsythia will take over. If not: then baseball. And that’s reason enough to see things getting brighter. After you’ve had your vaccine, here are a few ways to welcome April.


It’s grenache in France and the United States, and garnacha in Spain. Either way, this is a grape that yields wines to bridge the seasons.

The nonvintage Little James Basket Press Rouge (★★ $16) is a tasty bargain, versatile and food-friendly, from the respected Chateau de Saint Cosme. The wine is full of red fruit and full-bodied, too. Enjoy it with a late-March beef stew or serve it alongside a grilled steak. Good with tomato-based dishes, too.

The 2018 Chateau de Rouanne Visnobres (★★ $30) is half grenache, 40 percent syrah, and 10 percent mourvedre. The silky result highlights red fruit and delivers suggestions of raspberry, plus anise, salt, and black pepper. Try it with lamb, especially if you’re savoring ratatouille on the side.

From Spain comes the 2018 Borsao Tres Picos (★★ $18), a husky and concentrated 100 percent garnacha. Pair it with fare as varied as chili and barbecue, baked red-sauced pastas and ripe cheeses. There are notes of blackberry and vanilla.

The 2017 Alto Moncayo Veraton (★★ $32) boasts a colorful label and spirited style. Also all garnacha, this Spanish red is an old vines mouthful from the Campo de Borja DO. A fine choice to accompany grilled meats, grilled vegetables, and a meat-and-cheese lasagna.


Cantine Ermes has released two easygoing, very appealing organic wines.

The Vento di Mare 2019 Nerello Mascalese (★★ $12) and Vento di Mare 2019 Pinot Grigio (★ $12) are exceedingly well-priced and recommended with antipasti and light Italian fare. The winery is headquartered in Belice’s valley, between Gibellina and Santa Ninfa. It was founded in 1998, three decades after the earthquake that devastated the region and towns such as Salaparuta, Partanna, Montevago, and Santa Margherita di Belice.

The Nerello Mascalese is a light-bodied, modestly earthy red with hints of spice and herbs. It’s a pleasing introduction to the indigenous grape. The pinot grigio works as a casual sipper or with fried seafood dishes.


Paraduxx is a remarkable part of the Duckhorn portfolio. It’s devoted to blended wines, red and white.

Winemaker Cardiff Scott-Robinson’s standouts from the 2017 vintage include a trio of Napa Valley red wines. The Paraduxx Rector Creek Vineyard red (★★★★ $85) is a bold blend of cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel that definitely has something to declare and does it with black and red fruit; the Atlas Peak red (★★★★ $85) brightly and harmoniously brings together sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon; and the Howell Mountain red wine (★★★★ $85) is a very concentrated union of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, with harvests of black cherry and blackberry. They’re inspired pairings.

Each of them calls for the richest cuts of red meat, especially rack or leg of lamb; and rib-eye and porterhouse steaks. And if you’ve invested in Wagyu beef and not Bordeaux, these are your wines.

Scott-Robinson’s 2019 Paraduxx Proprietary Napa Valley White Wine (★★★ $34) also is stellar, announced with the aromas of apple and pear and the flavors of honeydew, peach, and plum. This blend is 56 percent chardonnay, 38 percent viognier, and 6 percent Marsanne, combining for balanced and vivid accompaniment to lightly sauced or grilled shellfish, especially lobster.

Diageo’s Distillers Edition collection of single-malt Scotches includes a taste from the Isle of Skye. Talisker Distillers Edition (★★★ $85) was double-matured in ex-bodega Amoroso cask wood. That has imparted some sweetness to soften the peaty power of the 10 Year Old. Very rich, and an ideal way to continue your tour one dram at a time. Two previously reviewed classics in the Diageo series: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 16 Year Old  (★★★★★ $110) and Oban Distillers Edition 14 Year Old (★★★★ $95).


Continuing the Scotch theme: a lively cocktail to warm the last of the chilly nights. From mixologist Eric Ribeiro, featuring The Singleton of Glendullan 12 Years Old.


1.5 oz. The Singleton 12 Years Old

4 oz. hot water

5 oz. honey

¼ oz. lemon juice

Add all ingredients in a mug and garnish with a lemon wheel spiked with four cloves, and a cinnamon stick. To tweak the flavor, add an apple slice and some cinnamon.

Yes, pickle juice, an essential ingredient for several cocktails.

From The Pickle Juice Co.  come these two.

The Dill Pickle Martini


2 oz. dry gin

¼ oz. dry vermouth

½ oz. pickle juice

Stir, and add one slice of dill pickle for garnish.

The Flaming Toad


2/3 oz. 151 proof rum

1/3 oz. pickle juice


The Pickle Juice Co.’s product is available in 8 oz. ($19.99 for 12); and 1 liter bottles (6 for $29.99), among other sizes. picklepower.comamazon.com

Canteen Spirits is producing a ready-to-drink sparkling soda and vodka beverage. The flavors with include watermelon, lime, black cherry, and strawberry. Get set to fill that cooler. Zero sugar, carbs, sodium; 99 calories. $2 per can, and $10 to $13 for a six-pack.

And just so you pour it now, or simply anticipate pleasures to come: the Wolffer Estate 2020 Summer in a Bottle Rose (★★★ $26) the fruity and festive, balanced and bright Hamptonian. Chill. 


“72 Reasons to Be a Vegan” (Workman Publishing, $14.95) by Gene Stone and Kathy Preston is subtitled “Why Plant Based. Why Now.” It concisely and wisely makes the case for an oat milk latte and coconut ice cream while addressing larger issues from climate change to animal life. For starters, if every American went vegan for one day, 90 billion gallons of water would be saved. It may not convert you, but the information matters.




For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.

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