One of the best moments from the movie Sideways: Paul Giamatti as Miles educating Thomas Haden Church in depth on the nuances of wine tasting. Haden Church, looking fairly clueless, sucks down his wine, and afterwards an incredulous Giamatti asks:
“Are you chewing gum?!”
The first thing I did before wine tasting this weekend?
Spit out my gum.
(While we’re on the subject of Sideways, am I the only person who hasn’t ordered a glass of Merlot in five years simply because of that movie? I have absolutely nothing against Merlot; it’s just that every time I see it on a wine list I hear Giamatti’s voice in my head: “I am NOT drinking any f***ing Merlot!!”)
Anyway, my friend Rishi and I took a day trip up to the Shawangunk Wine Trail this weekend and had a great time. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend going: a scenic hour and a quarter drive from Westchester (or less, depending on where you live), beautiful countryside, and quaint, accessible wineries that surprisingly aren’t overrun with visitors.
First though, we needed to eat, so we stopped at the Main Street Bistro in New Paltz for lunch.
Lively and bustling, this was the place to be.
The menu here is massive and everything looked good. Servers walked by with huge plates of pancakes and omelets and I wanted that. Then I saw the burgers and I wanted that.
I eventually settled on the Protein X — scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, black beans, broccoli, home fries and cheese wrapped in a giant tortilla, topped with salsa and hot sauce.
Does that look good or what? Loved it. So fresh, and despite the enormity, not heavy.
Then we were off to a few wineries. First stop, Adair Vineyards in New Paltz.
Adair looks like something straight out of a post card. Red barn, expansive green field (with picnic benches), and picturesque vineyards set on the other side of a small creek.
The tasting room’s inside the barn.
Adair does whites (Vidal, Cayuga), reds (Cab Franc, blends) and dessert wines (peach), but my favorite is their Blackberry Kir, a refreshing blend of Seyval wine and blackberry juice.
Next stop — Glorie Farm Winery in Marlboro.
I don’t know if you’re allowed to walk through the vineyards here, but it sure is tempting.
For a little winery (and young — established in 2004), Glorie produces a wide variety of wines. I first had their Red Monkey wine at a festival a few years ago, and have remembered them ever since.
Rishi and I were seriously impressed with Glorie. It’s rare to go to a tasting and enjoy all five wines, but that’s just what happened… there wasn’t a weak one of the bunch.
Most wineries offer a set five wines for tasting; Glorie lets you pick five from sixteen choices.
Standouts were the Seyval Blanc, a crisp white, and the DeChaunac Oak, a full-bodied, oaky red. I bought a bottle of the Seyval Blanc on the way out.
Our last stop of the day was at Benmarl Winery, one of the largest and most scenic wineries on the Shawangunk Trail.
There’s a large tasting room, and you can even tour the wine cellar. (I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take pictures of what’s down there, like the oak barrels, the grape crushers and their totally cool Rube Goldberg-like corking machine.)
But it’s the view that sets Benmarl apart. Overlooking the Hudson to the east, it’s stunning.
Benmarl sets up tables and chairs so you can sit and linger with your wine. Best thing to do is bring some food and make an afternoon of it (they have events and live music during the summer). Rishi and I were fairly mesmerized by the view, especially when dark clouds rolled in and giant flashes of lightning shot across the sky on the other side of the river.
So that was our Sideways, male-bonding experience. Unlike poor Miles, I got through the day without pouring a spit bucket on myself. I remembered to spit out my gum. And I even sampled a Merlot without freaking out.
Main Street Bistro
59 Main St.
New Paltz, NY
52 Allhusen Rd.
New Paltz, NY
Glorie Farm Winery
40 Mountain Rd.
156 Highland Ave.