Ok, so, it’s not that I have a bad palate, it’s just that I'm inexperienced?
I've recently watched the Somm documentaries and when the group of Sommeliers were doing the blind tasting they were able to name the exact region and vintage of each wine. My mind was blown and I thought to myself, how could my palate ever be that good?!
Maybe it's not so much about having the perfect palate and more about knowing the ins and outs of each wine varietal, region, vintage, etc. Don't get me wrong, palate training is 100% important but how can you recognize the flavor of Gooseberry if you've never had one? Well, as soon as you're done reading this, go to your local grocery store, start sniffing all the spices, buy all the produce and if anyone looks at you funny just tell them you're improving your palate. How can you tell the difference between Long Island wine and California wine? Well, stop scrolling on social media and start Googling.
Let’s think of it like a game of Guess Who. Your opponent has poured themselves a glass of secret vino and you have 12 different photos of wine in front of you. If you know what questions to ask, you can very easily deduce which one they poured. Start simple: Red or white? They say red; you can eliminate half of the wines in front of you. Red fruit notes or dark fruit notes? They say red fruit; flip down more photos. French or Italian grape? They say Italian; eliminate all the Frenchies.
Now just imagine you're playing this game with yourself every time you're tasting wine. When your brain to palate connection is strong enough to recognize that soft tannin, red fruit forward Italian grape varietal… you’re probably drinking Teroldego and maybe you’ll also recognize those same nuances in say, a new red blend at the Suhru Tasting house? *Cough*Cough* Ember. We all can become a Sherlock Holmes of wine— just look for the clues.
I doubt that there will ever be a day that I will know absolutely everything about wine and even now, I’ve only barely scratched the surface. But honestly, that’s really exciting. The magic of wine is that when you're properly tasting it, you are fully living in the present with each sip expanding your knowledge. Every bottle you open has a story to tell and a lesson to be taught. Wait, so does that mean I'll get a little smarter with every glass I drink? I’m not sure if that’s the exact takeaway from this but whatever floats your boat. Cheers to being a forever student!
Want to Read More Snippets with Shannon? Keep Reading!
One of the world's most popular red wines—Merlot is loved for its versatility! Here on the North Fork of Long Island it is one of the most prolific and widely planted varieties. A consistent ripener, Merlot makes beautiful blends as well as single varietal wines.
Although currently one of the most popular wines in the world, Merlot was originally considered a secondary grape by winemakers, believed to be best suited for blending rather than as a “stand alone” varietal. While there are now a plethora of delicious single varietal Merlot’s to choose from on the East End as well as around the globe, Merlot continues to be a favorite amongst winemakers when it comes to blending.
A Brief History of the Grape
Merlot was first mentioned in 1784, in Bordeaux. Back then it was called Merlau or Merle. It is said that Merlot was named after the “blackbirds” that loved to eat the ripe grapes, these birds were a similar blue, black color to the ripe grapes.
Still the most planted grape in Bordeaux France, Merlot grows alongside the other classic Bordeaux red varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. In Italy, Merlot was originally called Bordo and is widely used as a blending grape in Super Tuscan wines.
Planted all over the world, Merlot grows well on sandy loam or well-drained soils that have good moisture holding capacity. Well suited to cool climate regions (think Long Island) Merlot ripens into dark blue to black berries with thin skins and loose, large bunches.
Fun Fact: the most expensive Merlot was sold at auction in 2011. A case of 1961 Petrus went for $144,000 USD which comes to $12,000 a bottle!
Merlot reached its peak popularity in the US in the 1990’s, then experienced a drop in popularity after the movie Sideways came out in which Paul Giammatti's character poked fun at the wine, saying Merlot is bland and the market is oversaturated with the varietal. In the two decades since, Merlot has made a comeback and is currently the second most popular grape varietal in the United States.
A Closer Look at our Merlot
Classic old-world style, our Merlot was released to the public on February 1, 2023 and is quickly becoming a crowd favorite! This old-world style red is a beautiful representation of North Fork Merlot. The staple of Long Island Wine Country, Merlot is wonderfully well suited to our cool, maritime climate with consistent ripening and excellent aging potential. A medium bodied wine with beautiful red fruit notes and hints of spice on the nose with red fruit flowing onto the palate. It is elegant with a light hint of vanilla and a seamless, silky finish.
Recommended Food Pairings
Like all reds, Merlot is best served at room temperature (60 – 65 degrees F). Medium to full-bodied reds in general are recommended to be served at a low 60 degrees Fahrenheit to best showcase the ripe fruit notes and soft tannins. Merlot pairs well with a variety of foods including white and dark meats from chicken, turkey and pork as well as pasta, burgers and pizza, cheese plates, beef stew and more.
Make sure to open your favorite bottle of Merlot and toast this versatile grape as you savor every sip!
Learn More About our Merlot
To say that I'm a novice when it comes to wine would be an understatement, but there is no greater driving force than that which is passion. I would be lying, however, if I said that embarking on this journey doesn’t feel daunting and, well, kinda scary. Wine has such a vastly rich history; I mean, hell, even Jesus drank it. (and yes, the irony in that sentence was 100% planned.)
Applying to be the Assistant Tasting Room Manager at Suhru was a spur of the moment, “why not,” decision. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. It turns out that, maybe, some things do happen for a reason.
Living on the South Shore of Long Island for the majority of my life, coming out to the North Fork was a bit of an endeavor, but that 40-60 minute drive was always worth it. I’ve experienced the East End wineries and tasting houses, in both small and large group settings, with family, and even with a few strangers that I had only met that morning. Regardless of the who, or how many, the common denominator was always… wine.
I’ve been able to have conversations with people that probably wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the bottle that sat between us. I guess you could say that wine is the proverbial Conch Shell. (That was a Lord of the Flies reference for all of my literary nerds.) I’ve shared bottles with people who have made wine a way of life, and with those who only cared about the alcohol content. But with each sip I took, the unknowing vinifera passion grew. While others immediately grabbed their glass from the bar after it was poured, I was always the last to walk away, because to me, the story behind what was poured into my glass was more important than the glass itself.
I remember the day I met Shelby at the Tasting House for my interview like it was yesterday. It was only 6 months ago, but you know what I mean. One of the first things she asked me was, “What do you know about wine?” Now, the term, Word Vomit, is typically used in a negative sense but in this case, I ralphed up everything I've absorbed through my wine journey thus far. Most interviews don’t last very long but when you’re in the right place at the right time, an hour and a half goes by pretty quickly. Interview questions just felt like friendly conversation, and I guess being a wine sponge all these years really paid off because the next morning I was offered the position.
In the short time that I’ve worked here the most common question I get asked is, “Are you one of the daughters?” my response is often, “Well, not by blood, but by choice, so I know they must like me.” While my sarcastic tone is abundantly present when I say this, there is very much an underlying truth to it. The Hearn family as well as the Suhru staff immediately welcomed me with open arms. This Tasting House is more of a Tasting Home and I couldn’t be more grateful for the Family, Friends, and Neighbors I've met thus far. I will keep being the best sponge I can be, while I continue my wine education journey learning from not only the incredible staff here but the knowledgeable guests I get to hang out with 5 days a week!
Follow along with Shannon's wine education as she expands her pallet and explores the world of wine. Check back each month to read about her latest wine musings. Want to know more about Shannon? Checkout her Bio
It’s a big year for Suhru—2023 marks five years in our Cutchogue Tasting House and fifteen (wow that went fast!) years making Suhru Wines. We officially opened our Tasting House doors in May of 2018 and since then have worked every day to cultivate the friendly, inviting, relaxed tasting room experience that you know and love!
I am very proud of how the Suhru team has managed the storms of the past few years and am excited to share that in 2023 we will be launching a number of the projects that we have been working on.
We are continuing to grow the Suhru Portfolio with the addition of THREE new wines this year! On February 1st we will be releasing the first Suhru Merlot, this classic old-world style red is a beautiful representation of North Fork Merlot and a staple of Long Island Wine Country. Merlot is wonderfully well suited to our cool, maritime climate with consistent ripening and excellent aging potential. At Suhru, we are making a medium-bodied, soft tannin Merlot aged for 9 months in Hungarian oak barrels, setting it apart in style from the majority of Merlots made in this region. An elegant wine with red fruit, hints of cardamom, tarragon and anise on the nose, with red cherries, currants and raspberry on the palate; this wine has a light hint of vanilla and a seamless, silky finish.
Later this Spring we will be releasing an exciting and little known new white wine that is quite different from anything else you are seeing on Long Island at the moment. And if that isn’t enticing enough, we are pleased to share that towards the end of 2023 we will be releasing a Petit Verdot, a highly anticipated red for Suhru that we will only be making in the best of vintages!
There are a lot of things happening this year that I am excited for, but none of them more so than the addition of New Events. It’s going to be a busy year so get your calendars ready!
- New Happy Hour—Wednesdays & Thursdays from 3-6pm featuring glass specials and weekly small plates!
- Suhru Sommelier—monthly Comparative Tasting & Continuing Wine Education classes led by in-house wine expert Beth Santosuosso. These exciting classe will be held on the third Sunday of each month starting in February. Learn More
- Southold Bay Oysters Return on Sunday, May 28th of Memorial Day Weekend and Sunday, September 3rd of Labor Day Weekend from 1-5pm.
- Fireside Fridays—these fun Friday evening events are back with extended hours starting May 26th and running through October 6th the Tasting House will be open until 7pm on Fridays with outdoor fire pits lit at 4:30pm.
- Save the Date for our First Annual Suhru Summer BBQ which will be held on Sunday, July 30th with Winemaker Russell Hearn and Assistant Winemaker Brad Ulrich on the grill!
Amongst all the changes this year, we are making a slight change to our hours. We will now be open Wednesdays - Sundays year round, Closed weekly on Mondays & Tuesdays and select holidays throughout the year including Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
The Tasting House is getting a facelift this year with lots of changes happening both indoors and out. get excited for the return of bar seating, a fresh new look in the Wine Garden, some new furniture making its debut and a plethora of other changes coming to the Tasting House! We will be continuing to make changes throughout the entirety of 2023 so be sure to stop in and see what we have been up to!
More to Come—and if that’s not enough, (I told you we’ve been busy!) we have a few more surprises up our sleeves for 2023 so stay tuned for more special events, food pairings, wine dinners, and more!
The only thing better than milk and cookies, is wine and cookies!
I love the holidays—cutting down a tree, lighting the menorah, driving through the neighborhoods and seeing the North Fork all lit up with lights, holiday shopping on Main Street—there is something truly magical about it all!
While I love all of the festivities and decor, one of my favorite holiday traditions is baking with family and friends, and I make a point of carving out at least one full day of baking each year.
There is something very comforting about gathering in the kitchen and creating something with your own two hands, passing down recipes and finding new ones. We tend to stick to the "classics" over here, however I have recently learned that my classics are not the norm so, I am sharing a few of my favorites which hopefully inspire you this holiday season!
Almond Shortbread Cookies
This is one of my absolute favorites! The recipe was shared with me years ago by a close friend and has quickly become a holiday staple in my house.
Shortbread cookies (in my opinion) are far superior to a sugar cookie in taste but still allow for the fun of holiday decorating. I usually keep mine relatively simple, with powdered sugar on top or a simple drizzle of icing. What's great about these cookies is, you can also go full out with traditional sugar cookie frosting and decorating!
The key to the icing, is to add almond extract which adds a nice level of complexity and contrast to the sweetness of the icing. Plus its a nice elevated surprise when you bite into it. These are great with a cup of tea or a softer, fruitier red like Teroldego.
Growing up in a house that celebrated both Chanukkah and Christmas, rugelach was a must! This recipe is an adaptation from one of my mother's Jewish cookbooks—one of those cookbooks that has been passed down through multiple generations and has notes in the margins.
I have made it my own over the years through slight tweaks. I have kept this recipe fairly traditional with the raspberry jam, cinnamon sugar, walnut and raisin filling but feel free to experiment. I have made them with a variety of other nuts (pecans add a nice flavor) and strawberry jam also works nicely.
As with most Jewish recipes, it is a bit time consuming to make but is worth the work in the end!
I enjoy these as an after dinner treat paired with a glass of Shiraz to bring out the raspberry and red fruit notes!
Peanut Butter Blossoms
An absolute classic and a holiday staple. There is something so nostalgic about peanut butter blossoms, to me they have always screamed holiday!
Whether you make them with the traditional Hersheys Kiss or opt for my personal favorite the Hersheys Hug (plus the swirl of the white and milk chocolate add a little extra festive touch) you really can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate!
You absolutely can pair this one with a bottle of red (and I often do), but recently I keep reaching for the bubbly with these. Grab yourself a bottle of Brut, a warm fuzzy blanket, and settle in on the couch for a cozy night in (that's how I plan to spend my holiday break at least)!
We'd love to know what you and your families bake this time of year, so please comment below with your favorites as well. Wishing you and yours a very happy holidays and a happy, healthy New Year!
The holiday season is upon us meaning our lives are all filled with holiday cheer and lots of delicious wines, incredible foods, and family recipes galore!
It should come as no surprise that one of our favorite family traditions is to gather with a bottle of wine and share a delicious spread of snacks. There are many excellent chefs in the extended Suhru Wines family, so we often find ourselves gathering over appetizers to allow everyone's culinary expertise to shine!
We have compiled a selection of our holiday favorites and recommended wine pairings perfect for any get together. These three small bite appetizers were recently featured in our December Wine Club tasting event and make a great addition to your holiday and New Years celebrations!
When it comes to holiday pairing, I for one tend to think of warm dishes, however it is always nice to add something bright, crisp and fresh into the mix! One of my favorite white wines this time of year is Sauvignon Blanc. While often thought of as a warm weather wine, Sauvignon Blanc offers a deliciously rich texture and savory quality that makes it an excellent winter white!
A few years ago I was introduced to a version of this recipe at a dinner party and have been tweaking it ever since—fresh endive leaves filled with crumbled goat cheese and smoked salmon topped with fresh dill and a lemon dill sauce adds a bit of brightness to any cocktail party and plays nicely with the rich undertones and light grassiness you so often see in Sauvignon Blancs.
Baked brie is the best appetizer, there I've said it. No-one is sad when they arrive at a party and there is a baked brie on the table, however sometimes it can become a little unruly having everyone hacking into the brie sending melted cheese every which way. If you are looking for a more elevated version I recommend brie crostinis, they are quick and easy to make and delight every time!
WWhen it comes to brie there are endless pairing options but this holiday season I am reaching for our Shiraz. The bright red fruit notes that come forward in this wine make it an excellent pairing with the fresh raspberries and raspberry balsamic glaze in this recipe.
One of our most popular wines this and every time of the year is our Bordeaux style red blend, Ember. As one of our favorite wines we have a wide variety of excellent food pairings and this one is always a crowd favorite! If you are local to the North Fork be sure to stop into Goodale Farms in Aquebogue to pick up some of their Reserve Aged Cheddar which is one of our favorite local cheeses and pairs beautifully with wine!
Melt a piece of the Reserve Cheddar on a toasted crostini then top with prosciutto, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme for a simple and delicious bite, that pairs beautifully with a fruit forward, medium bodied red like our Ember. The fresh thyme brings out the dried herb notes on the nose while the hint of sweetness and richness from the prosciutto plays wonderfully with the robust flavors in the glass.
The Best Wines for Your Cheese & Charcuterie Spread
You can't go wrong with a cheese and charcuterie board especially around the holidays! When is comes to pairing wine and food there are a lot of factors to take into account, when you apply that to a dish like a cheese and charcuterie plate with so many components and flavors, it can become overwhelming. There are endless options when it comes to wine pairing but my three go to's are Brut, Dry Riesling & Teroldego.
Sparkling Brut is a classic choice and will bring a little sparkle to your get together! The the light, delicate flavors and touch of brioche on the finish will work well with most cheeses and is there anything more festive than a glass of bubbles?
For a more traditional wine pairing I recommend Dry Riesling in white and Teroldego in red. Both wines are incredibly food friendly, fruit forward and offer a nice acidity making them well rounded wines to pair with a spread. The light hint of sweetness in Riesling offers a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of cheeses and cured meats and acts as a natural palate cleanser. Teroldego is a medium to light bodied red offering more robust flavors without the heavy oak notes which can sometimes overpower a dish. An incredibly fruit forward wine, Teroldego offers a refreshing burst of fruit followed by soft flavors on the finish allowing the flavors on the plate to shine through.
No matter what wines you choose to pair this holiday season we wish you nothing but happiness! Here's to a happy holiday season filled with good foods, good company, and excellent wines! Cheers to 2022 and to all that 2023 has to bring!
One of the many joys of Fall is apple picking, however once you get all of those delicious apples home, the question is always what to do with them? There are only so many sweet apple dishes a girl can eat!
While I love making apple pies and crisps, I find myself gravitating more and more to savory apple dishes like this sweet and savory Apple Goat Cheese Tart! A true North Fork farm-to-table recipe, everything you need can be picked up locally.
After a beautiful Fall day spent apple picking on the North Fork, stop by one of our local cheesemakers Catapano Dairy Farm or Goodale Farms for chevre goat cheese, and stop at one of the many North Fork farm stands for local honey and fresh herbs.
A quick and simple recipe, this Apple Tart pairs splendidly with the crisp acidity and rich stone fruit notes in our Dry Riesling and makes both a wonderful appetizer or dessert.
One of the things I love most about winemaking is the cyclical nature of the profession and its ties to nature. It is very rewarding each year watching the progression of the vine throughout the growing season moving from bud break in the Spring, to fruit set and cluster development over the Summer months, ripening and harvest in the Fall and then watching the vines go dormant for the Winter months before it all starts up again.
While Harvest and the vineyard tend to get most of the attention in the wine world, as a winemaker I also get to see what goes on behind the scenes in the tank, barrel and bottle. Much like the cyclical cycle of the growing season, the winery runs the same with the hustle and bustle of Harvest in the Fall with fermentation, racking, filtrations followed by barrel aging for our reds and the beginning of bottling of whites and rosés in the Winter Months moving into red blending trials and red bottling in the Spring and Summer before it all starts up again.
While the vineyard and winery work is often the most visible, there is a lot happening in the bottle as it continues to bottle age in the months, years, and decades after it is initially bottled. Which brings us to our Library wines. We are excited to be sharing a selection of Library Reds.
A Closer Look at the Long Island Wine Region
The Long Island Wine Region, specifically the North Fork is what is referred to as a Cool Climate growing region, meaning that we get "cool" not "cold" temperatures in the Winter months. While it may not always feel that way to us, and we do get inarguably very cold days, those extreme cold temperatures are moderated by our proximity to the ocean. Being surrounded by water on three sides, the water acts as a blanket in the cooler months insulating us from the extreme cold temperatures that you see in Northern wine regions such as the Finger Lakes. This allows us to grow vitis vinifera grape varietals and for the wines made from those grapes to retain higher acidity and moderate alcohols typically in the 13-13.5% range.
The Ageability of Suhru Reds
As a winemaker, my style preference of not trying to extract much of the astringent tannin from the seeds by shorter soak times during fermentation, creates softer red wines. That coupled with the fact that Long Island reds retain higher acidity and moderate alcohol levels, means that wines from our region can comfortably age in the bottle for 10-15 years. As we approach the end of 2022 this means that wines from the 2013 vintages, undisputedly one of the best growing years on Long Island, are quickly approaching their 10 year age mark.
The 2013 vintage was a near perfect growing season on the North Fork of Long Island, regarded as one of our region's best vintages to date. This was due to a hot, dry summer and absolutely zero rainfall during the entire Harvest, meaning every varietal was able to reach optimal growth and development unimpeded. We saw this trend of high quality vintages continue into 2014 and 2015 leading to excellent wine in the bottle.
We hope you will join us this weekend for our Library Reds Tasting, available by reservation Thursday, November 17th - Monday, November 21st. Can't make the event but still interested in exploring these delicious wines? Click Here.
It may seem the obvious choice, but you can never go wrong with a baked brie! Hot, gooey cheese? Yes please! However if you are looking for an elevated approach I highly recommend dressing this classic appetizer up with a handful of chopped nuts, fresh fruit or fruit jam and a few fresh herbs which will take this simple (albeit delicious) dish to the next level.
While there are a variety of wines that you could choose to pair with this particular dish—think Brut, Sauvignon Blanc or a variety of reds—at Suhru we are partial to the Teroldego. The bright red fruit flavors, subtle tannins and soft acidity make this an excellent pairing for a rich, savory dish like a baked brie. The fresh fruit of preserves will bring out the ripe red fruit notes on the pallet while the fresh herbs nod to the savory quality of the wine on the finish.
With the busiest part of the Fall now behind us, we are happy to report that the 2022 harvest has proven to be another fruitful one! The last of our grapes were harvested on Saturday, October 29th, bringing the 2022 vintage to a close. Despite the few periods of rain we had in October we are very pleased with the quality of fruit that came in from the vineyards this year. We saw good yields, very nice fruit development due to the hot, dry summer and many sun filled days, and minimal if any disease or animal pressure throughout the growing season. While a few varieties saw smaller than average yields in the vineyard, the quality all around was very high and is all adding up to a solid vintage.
Currently our white wines have finished fermentation and will be filtered in the coming days. Our reds are all macerating in the tank and undergoing punchdowns multiple times a day to ensure the juice stays in contact with the grape skins throughout the fermentation process. Russell and the rest of our winery team are keeping a close eye on things and will stay very busy in the winery throughout the rest of November. Over the coming weeks our reds will complete primary fermentation, at which point the wine will be pressed off the grape skins and returned to the tank to settle, before being barreled down to undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel.
Meanwhile, over at the Tasting House we have quite a bit planned this November and through the end of 2022! Friday, November 4th we will be hosting a Wine Pairing Dinner at The North Fork Shack featuring four select Suhru Wines paired with a Jamaican inspired meal crafted by Chef Samy. The weekend of November 17th - 21st we will be offering a limited re-release Library Reds Tasting Flight ($40pp) featuring four select red wines from the 2013 and 2014 vintages, with a limited number of bottles available for purchase.
Being a family business and active members of our local community, we are proud to share that for the second year in a row we will be the wine sponsor for the CAST Festival of Trees which benefits CAST whose mission is "to build a thriving community where every member is free from worry about basic necessities and is able to build a better future for themselves and their families". Festival of Trees is a wonderful holiday event for the whole family and directly supports those in need in our local North Fork community. Shelby will be pouring a selection of Suhru Wines at the Friday night welcome reception, she hopes to see you there!
Looking ahead to December, be sure to mark your calendars—on Sunday, December 4th we will be hosting our friends at Chocology Unlimited for a Holiday Popup featuring their delicious chocolates and fudges. And our December Wine Club Tasting will be held on the weekend of December 8th - 12th, Club Members check your emails for complete details.
We hope to see you at the Tasting House this November, but if we don't we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Family & Friends! If you are looking for Thanksgiving recipe ideas, we recommend taking a look through some of our featured Cooking with Suhru recipes!