~ by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits ~
While you may have your list of ACKtivities to accomplish while on here on island, you also want to make sure you have time to relax. The last thing you want to do is take precious time out of your day to fight the traffic and crowds at the market, much less prepare or cook food, when you could be at the beach. Fortunately, Nantucket has an abundance of fabulous eateries that offer you tasty options without actually having to dine in a restaurant. And what better way to enjoy this take-out food than with the perfect wine pairing! Here are a few quick tips for finding food to nourish your soul and a memorable bottle of wine to warm your heart.
When you have a houseful of picky eaters or a larger-than-usual crowd to feed, sandwiches make for a quick and easy option. However, it is rare to find that a group will all agree on the same one. Something Natural solves this issue in that you can create your own piled-high sandwich. Literally, you choose the meat or other filling, cheese (if you so desire) and any additional garnishes. The most important part is you also get to make a selection from their fresh daily baked breads. If you don’t even have the energy for choosing a sandwich, swing over to Sophie T’s for one of their hearty house specialty subs. Or, if you’re in ‘Sconset, Claudette’s is where you stop for sandwiches.
A safe bet to pair with a variety of sandwiches is Viña Columna Albariño 2014 from Rías Baixas in the Galicia region of Northwest Spain. Albariño is a traditional white Spanish grape varietal grown in granite and slate soil. and found very little outside of its homeland region. It is typically crisp, dry and racy, very refreshing and it leaves your mouth watering for another sip. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and sees no oak, making it a stellar match for informal fare while dining al fresco at the beach.
For the more adventurous take-out types (as in those who like to add a variety of toppings and not your common bread selection) you should consider a wine that also goes along for the ride. Enter Bellus Falanghina ‘Caldera’ 2014. Falanghina is an ancient white grape indigenous to Campania, Italy, located on the western seaboard near Naples. It is a funky, brave grape that also is not commonly grown outside of its region. The wine has considerable character, yet delicate and almost bohemian, with lively acidity, floral aromas and mineral flavors. Look for this amazing value of a wine that will knock the socks of almost any Pinot Grigio.
For those who want to do the seafood route for your take out dinner, Easy Street Cantina serves a fantastic selection of very fresh seafood: clams, lobster rolls, fish tacos, shrimp, scallops, New England clam chowder, fish-nchips, and even a classic fried Fisherman’s Platter. They’re fast and in walking distance to Children’s Beach (where their other restaurant, Childrens Cafe, also serves seafood to-go).
One of the most asked questions in the wine store is “What wine pairs best with lobster?” Look no further than a bottle of Chardonnay. “Which Chardonnay?,” is usually the next question. With so many different choices of styles available from this one grape variety, let’s narrow it down to two classic styles. The first being Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2014. This iconic winery led by legendary winemaker Jim Clendenen is an homage to the wines of Burgundy, France. The wine is a barrel fermented, full bodied Chardonnay with mouth filling citrus fruit and a palate cleansing, bright finish. It will become richer and more complex with age and considered an extreme value. This will be an easy-going, perfect pairing for the texture of the lobster caressed in drawn butter.
For a more sophisticated option, Louis Baisinbert Montagny, 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes 2014 will gratify your discerning crowd. The lesser-known region of Montagny in the Côte Chalonnaise of southern Burgundy produces wines made from 100% Chardonnay. This limited-production, highly refined interpretation of Chardonnay has a rich, buttery structure with subtle notes of citrus and floral components. Its beautiful, distinctive signature opaque dark blue bottle ensures that light does not alter the wine. The freshness of this wine makes it an ideal choice for any summer seafood fare.
Nantucket’s take-out food scene also offers cuisine with an international flair. Siam to Go is one of the island options for your Thai Cuisine. What makes it even more unique is that it is located at the Nantucket Ice Rink! From traditional noodle dishes to sweeter style rice dishes, spicy curries and a plethora of appetizers to share, you can stretch across both sides of the spectrum in regards to what is the ultimate wine with your dish. If you prefer your food offerings on the mild side of the heat spiciness index, stick with a superb everyday wine such as Nantucket Vineyards Pinot Gris 2014. While this wine is made here on island, the wash ashore grapes originate from the West Coast. It is aged for one year in stainless steel tanks making it light-bodied, clean and refreshingly fresh and fruity enough to appeal to those who don’t care for a slightly sweeter wine. This simple and effortless wine is such a crowd pleaser; the fans in the crowd will be going wild.
Polar opposites attract when you have a spicy dish and a wine that offers a little bit of sweetness. Domaines Schlumberger Gewurztraminer ‘Les Prince Abbés’ 2014 is ideal for Thai food and offers depth, spiciness and richness. The name of the grape literally translates to ‘spicy’ Traminer and is one of the four Grand Cru grapes grown in Alsace, France. This medium-dry style wine offers generous aromas of ginger and pineapple with lower acidity and higher alcohol, making the wine appear to be sweeter on the palate than it really is. Schlumberger is a 7th generation managed winery synonymous with quality and pedigree as they exclusively harvest and produce their own wines and do not purchase any grapes or juice to use in their wine production. If you have never sampled a wine like this before, it is worth your exploration as it is surprisingly rare to find and delicious.