Wine bars on Long Island

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Let's raise a toast to wine bars, those cozy, cosmopolitan niche bistros where Bacchus is king and food plays second fiddle to glasses of merlot, cabernet and pinot grigio.

A half dozen or more wine bars are spread out from Port Washington to Greenport, serving the grape by the glass and bottle, as well as food for pairing. At these congenial gathering spots, imports from France, Italy and Spain compete for your palate with varietals from Long Island and California, as well as wines from lesser-known winemaking nations such as New Zealand, Argentina and Chile. Wait staffs and bartenders offer expertise in wine traditions and etiquette, so all you need do is sit back, close your eyes and drink it all in.

Just don't forget to bring along a designated driver -- and an appropriate toast of your own.

Novitá: 860 Franklin Ave., Garden City, 516-739-7660, novitany.com

Wine selection: More than 100 by the glass, 150 by the bottle

Least expensive glass: $8, Cadonini Pinot Grigio, Graff Riesling and Maigo Reserve Merlot

Most expensive glass: $42, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

Menu: New Italian cuisine, with popular dishes such as rigatoni ragu, $16. You can also mix and match a meat and cheese platter, $5 per meat and $4 per cheese.

Vintage Port: 109 Main St., Port Washington, 516-883-1033

Wine selection: 10-15 by the glass, 40-50 by the bottle

Least expensive glass: $7 Gladiator Nero D'avola, Domaine Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc

Most expensive glass: $15 Waters Winery Interlude (Bordeaux blend)

Menu: Cheese boards, $15-$23; steak sandwich with Roquefort cheese, $15

Bin 56: 56 Stewart Ave., Huntington, 631-812-0060

Wine selection: 16 by the glass

Least expensive glass: $8 Malbec, Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon or Tempranillo Grenache

Most expensive glass: $12 Lyeth Meritage or Chianti Classico

Menu: Tapas-style favorites include falafel crab cakes with tzatziki sauce, $12; a tortilla (Spanish omelet with potato and red onion), $6; and three bite-size chorizo-stuffed cheesebread sliders, $7.

Northport Tasting Room & Wine Cellar: 70 Main St., Northport, 631-261-0642, northportwines.com

Wine selection: 30 by the glass, 110 by the bottle

Least expensive glass: $8 Cinsault

Most expensive glass: $17, Txomin (pronounced Sho-min), from Spain's Basque region

Menu: Cheese, olive or meat plates, plus cheesecake, carrot cake, raspberry mousse cake, all $8, or order in from nearby restaurants.

La Cuvee : Greenporter Hotel, 326 Front St., Greenport, 631-477-0066, thegreenporter.com

Wine selection: 50 by the glass or bottle

Least expensive glass: $8 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon

Most expensive glass: $15 Laurel Lakes Cabernet Reserve

Menu: Choose from 12 appetizers, including oysters or French onion soup, $8-$15. Entrees include mussels with French fries, $16; hand-carved roast beef sandwich with French fries, $16; and steak, $26-$28

Grappa Wine Bar: 62 Main St., Sag Harbor, 631-725-0055, grappawinebar.com

Wine selection: 18 by the glass, 50 by the bottle

Least expensive glass: $8 Banfi Chianti, Sangiovese or Orvieto

Most expensive glass: $18 Brunello

Menu: Italian, featuring an antipasto plate with fire-roasted peppers, caponata, grilled zucchini, roasted cipolline, marinated olives and artichokes for $25. Individual (9-by-6-inch) grilled pizzas, $9.75; spaghettini with veal meatballs, $9-$18.

Learn about wine, too

"Around the World of White Wines": Hofstra University, 516-463-7200, ce.hofstra.edu

White wine lovers ages 21 and older can learn how to pair wine with food, find the best values on bottles and sample international varieties in this course taught by wine expert Robert Windorf.

When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $99

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