For this week's holiday edition of the Q&A, we pose our questions to Frank Scarola of Scarola Vineyards, a still-new producer that definitely flies under the radar. The wines are made at Wolffer Estate under the watchful eye of Roman Roth, but the Scarola family has plans for a tasting room on the North Fork, hopefully soon. As with many new producers, they are playing the waiting game with the New York State Liquor Authority. In the meantime, the wines are available directly from the Scarola and at a few shops in the tri-state area.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
It was in the summer of 1975 in Bari, Italy. I was living with my aunt and uncle and they served wine every day for lunch and dinner. Serving soda was considered a luxury at that time, not to mention a mismatch to their fabulous food. So it wasn’t a single bottle that I remember but more of a concentrated exposure to the wonderful world of wine. Latter on, when I got older, I came to understand that I was drinking blends of Moscato and Malvasia Nera.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
From an employment perspective the technology field was hit hard in the years 2001-2002 soon after the Y2K bug fixes were completed. I had been in the technology field for about 25 years at that time and was simply trying to determine what to do for the second half of my life. After learning about many new Long Island winery start-ups I was determined to give it a try on my own. If you love what you do — you don’t have to work a day in your life.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
Of course I like all my wines but I am especially fond of the 2004 Masseria Merlot. There’s been a noticeable transformation over the last year or so. The 2004 Merlot is blended with 17% Cabernet Franc and has a long — somewhat peppery finish. The finish of a wine is important to me. Think of a fireworks finale or the encore of your favorite concert. It’s what you remember most and take away with you.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Long Island wine community?
The biggest surprise has been the amount of support from the LI wine community. From Louisa Hargrave to the newest winery start-up to the LI Wine Council you feel as if you are part of team. Everyone wants each other to share in the success and promotion of the Long Island wine industry.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
There’s nothing better than a nice cold beer after a hard day’s work. As for wine, my favorite is Amarone – a rich, dry red Italian wine with great body. It’s made from grapes that have been dried on racks.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I don’t enjoy chocolate, or any sweets for that matter, with desert wine. Individually they need to stand on their own. I’ll have one or the other but never both together. I find the flavors to be competing as opposed to complementing each other.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
Here’s my ultimate wine drinking scenario. Picture yourself at round wooded table so that you can see and here everyone. You’re with 5 of your favorite people. No more than that because then it gets complicated. There are 5 glasses of different wines in front of each person. In the middle of the table you see an assortment of appetizers, anti-pasta, and small plates. Behind you are 2 servers – one to serve the wine and the other to replenish the food. The final blend is enjoyable boisterous conversation as you smell and feel the roaring fire next to you.