After California, New York is the second-largest producer of wine in the U.S. It's home to 4 wine growing regions and 8 different appellations. Each of New York's wine regions has a distinct climate and is known for a particular style of New York wine.
The eastern end of Long Island is known for its North Fork appellation, which produces Bordeaux-style reds. Weather here is affected by the Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound, and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. These Gulf Stream-influences moderate the temperature and create a maritime climate and long growing season.
New York's Finger Lakes region is sometimes (unfairly) compared to Germany's Rhine. This area experiences short growing seasons and downright frigid winters, but the deep, narrow lakes provide enough of a moderating effect to keep the industry intact. The region's steep hillsides provide good sun exposure and, almost as important, excellent drainage to help ward off frost. Needless to say, cool-climate varieties have fared best, particularly Riesling. The Finger Lakes also produce a number of sparkling and ice wines.
The Hudson River region is home to the country's oldest continually running winery, Brotherhood Winery, which was founded in the 1830s. The Hudson River's north-south direction helps draw moist ocean breezes into the river valley and thus moderate the potentially harsh growing conditions (which range from excessive heat to extreme cold). In recent years, New York wine producers and grape growers have begun finding success with hearty clones of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
Medium to full-bodied wines with flavors of black cherry, plum, and tobacco
Roasts, hamburgers, other grilled meats
Merlot enjoyed a surge in popularity in the 1990s as consumers suddenly discovered that they could enjoy aromas and flavors similar to those of Cabernet in a fleshier, softer wine with smoother tannins. A wave of Merlot plantings followed, frequently in soils and microclimates completely inappropriate for this variety, and the market was soon flooded with dilute bottles from young vines and high crop levels, and weedy, herbaceous examples from underripe fruit. Many of these undernourished wines were overoaked in attempts to mask their deficiencies. Over the same period, a number of Cabernet producers began picking riper fruit and doing a better job managing their tannings during the making and aging of their wines. The result was an upswing of powerful, satisfying Cabernets that were far less austere in their youth -- and a sharp decline in interest in Merlot.
Still, California's best Merlots, some of which predated the vogue for this variety in the 1990s, continue to be some of the finest examples of this variety outside Bordeaux -- in the same quality league with wines from Washington State and Italy's Tuscan coast region. Expect to find broad, supple wines with medium to full body, typically with aromas and flavors of black cherry, plum, dark berries, dark chocolate, tobacco, and earth, and suave, fine-grained tannins. Merlot also rules in Pomerol, and nowhere in the world does this variety make more complete wines than on the flat, clay-rich plateau that lies at the heart of this appellation.