Advanced Sommelier Jenny Benzie answers wine questions

Sommelier Answered Questions

September 26, 2019

You love to entertain, and while you have that fabulous Martha Stewart flair for cooking and table décor, you would like some advice on what wine to serve with your fabulous Nantucket spread of fall bounty. From guesstimating quantities needed of beverages for cocktail parties, to the perfect pairing with your lobster bake on the beach, Advanced Sommelier Jenny Benzie offers answers to some of the most asked questions at her wine store on Nantucket.  


You wouldn’t serve your Juice Bar ice cream warm, it just wouldn’t taste as good (and it would be a big mess!). Just like chilled soup and piping hot cookies from the oven, certain foods require to be served at recommended temperatures, as does wine. A typChampagne Castelnauical question, especially in the warmer months of summer, is What temperature should I serve my Champagne?

Let’s start with bubbles (a personal favorite – do you know the name of our store?!).  Sparkling wine should be served ice cold. This means close to 38 degrees F, with a range up to 48 degrees F if you just can’t wait to chill it that long. If you purchase something from our cold box selections, you are ready to go in an instant. If you make a selection from our shelf, while the wine store is cooler than most other retail locations in order to protect our ‘babies,’ you can put the bottle your freezer for an hour before guests arrive. Be sure to set a timer for yourself to remember that the bottle is in there. Otherwise, you will have a Champagne Slushee on your hands.

A few hours in the fridge will also do the trick if you have more time. On the other hand, if you need to speed chill your bubbly in less than twenty minutes, best to submerge it in an ice bath that is half ice, half cold water, with tons of salt dumped on top. Spin the bottle every five minutes or so that the liquid inside moves around and gets closer to the side and chills evenly inside the bottle.

Recommended Bubbles: Champagne Castelnau Réserve Brut Non-Vintage


While lobsters aren’t native to Nantucket, they are a fancy of many meals here on the island as they do come from the bounty of local New England waters. Think of them as a welcomed washashores J. With so many ways to prepare lobster (have you had the lobster mac and cheese at Brant Point Grill, by the way?), it can be challenging to find a one size fits all answer to the question What wine do you recommend with lobster?

Paul Pernot Bourgogne BlancLobsters can be steamed, boiled, or baked, served in the whole shell, on the half shell, or out of the shell. The lobster meat can be served in scrambled eggs in the morning, chilled on a fresh brioche roll for lunch, or perhaps as part of a delicious seafood stew for dinner. The meat is tender, a bit sweet, and has a tasty texture that requires a wine that matches this pedigree. Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc is an excellent choice to serve with lobster, no matter how you plan to serve or eat it. This beautiful Chardonnay from Burgundy, France, has a rich concentration to match the texture of the lobster and moderate acidity to pair well with almost any lobster preparation. This producer, along with his two sons, prefers subtle oak flavors and a softer, more elegant style of wine that what one would typically find from California. While their estate vineyard Puligny-Montrachet would be a great splurge, this entry-level wine is an incredible value that will complement your lobster meal nicely.


While summer is officially over, that doesn’t mean the party stops here. Fall is a wonderful time for locals to gather after working so hard all summer and regroup with their friends and neighbors while enjoying the Indian Summer weather we typically have here on island this time of year. Whether you are entertaining for twenty or two hundred, the most commonly asked question when it comes to party entertaining is How many bottles of wine do I need for my cocktail party?

Esprit Gassier Rosé Cotes de ProvenceWhile this might seem a straightforward question, the answer is dependent on many variables. How many people will be attending? Twenty people where six of them are kids make a difference in what you need. What time of day is the party? Lunchtime has fewer drinkers than a gathering after work. How long is the event? Two hours versus four hours could almost double your beverage quantities. Are you serving beer and, or liquor as well? More options of alcohol can decrease the amount of wine needed. Will there be food served at the event? If someone knows they need dinner after your gathering, they may not imbibe as much as if they know they will be served a full meal and making an evening out of the affair. After all of these factors have been calculated, then a proper estimate can be calculated. Always keep in mind that some people drink more, while some drink less, and the final amount typically evens out in the end.

Don’t forget the Rosé: Esprit Gassier Rosé, Côtes de Provence


For those of you who have entertained enough this season and don’t want to do any dishes, then dining at one of Nantucket’s bring your own bottle (BYOB) establishments is the way to go. These handful of restaurants do not have an alcohol license and allow you to bring your own wine to enjoy while they do the cooking. A small corkage fee per person is charged to cover the cost of providing the glassware and service of the wine. You can bring as many bottles as you want, and it is always recommended to bring a back-up selection just in case the first one you wanted turned out to be a bad bottle.

Stolpman Syrah Ballard CanyonThis leads to the question What wine should I take to Black Eyed Susan’s?  While well-known for their take on a classic Caeser Salad and fabulous linguini with clams, the creative menu allows for some flexibility in your wine options. This time of year, as the weather starts to be cooler at night, and their menu changes to reflect the season, Stolpman Estate Grown Syrah from Ballard Canyon in Santa Barbara County would be a perfect selection. This wine is layered with dark fruits and a blend of fresh berry flavors. It has a savory depth that leads to a long, elegant finish. For those who love a warm red wine, the texture will pair nicely with the salmon, be a gamey match for the lamb, and hearty enough for the meatiness of either the pork shoulder or swordfish.   Save a sip to have with your chocolate pot de crème!


Didn’t find the answer to your wine pairing question answered here? Feel free to visit at the store or give a call for a discussion that better suits your needs. For quick advice on the go, send an email with as much information as you can for a faster response. Cheers to you!