Yesterday, Julie (Wine Me, Dine Me) and I had the great pleasure to meet with Andrew Cecil, Ass’t General Manager of Oceanaire. We were given a lovely complimentary preview of their upcoming wine dinner. From what I understand, the wine dinner is the first time our particular Oceanaire has attempted such a thing. Based on the menu, wine pairings, and affordable price, I think it will work out well for them. The dinner is on Sept 12 and is $65 per person. Reservations are required.
I’m not much of a seafood fan, so other than mentioning the menu for pairing purposes, I’ll leave the food information sharing to Julie. I want to talk about their wine for the upcoming dinner.
Andrew and Chef Dumcum made a decision to focus on Spanish wines for the meal, all from trusted importer Jorge Ordoñez, distributed locally by Cutting Edge. As many of you know, Spanish and French wines are my absolute favorites, so I was thrilled to see so many high-quality, high-value wines on their list. In fact, if you find you’re interested in the wines, you can order the wines directly from Oceanaire (without a huge markup) during the wine dinner. All of the wines retail for under $15 in Ohio and in some cases, under $10 in Kentucky. In addition, all these wines are "drink now," so if you go home with a few, you don’t have to worry about cellaring.
The wine list for the dinner is amazingly easy-drinking and approachable, even for those who aren’t big fans of wine.
My overall score for their wines and pairing:
Marques de Gelida Brut: The list I have states this is a non-vintage Cava, but Andrew shared a 2004 vintage with us. This is high in acidity and tart, with a lemony fresh result. It had soft bubbles that tickled the back of my throat. Throughout our tasting I kept returning to this particular glass as a palatte cleanser. Sparkling wines are a great substitute for sorbet, and I found this one light, refreshing and up to the task.
Pairing: Tatmagouche Shooters, Iced Granny Smith Apple Mignonette
Basa Blanco Rueda 2007: This is a light and fruity wine composed of Verdejo, Viura, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. If I was just sniffing away blindly, I would have called this a viognier. Told I was wrong, I probably would have guessed a sauvignon blanc. That’s how tropical and light this particular wine is. It’s the perfect summer wine, and enjoyable on a day when the temperature breaks 90 degrees.
Pairing: Mixed Field Greens, Pickled Watermelon, Sunflower Seed Brittle, Tarragon Chevre, Mango Vinaigrette
Vega Sindoa Chardonnay 2006: This particular bottle wasn’t available for us to sample, but I hear that it’s earthy and only lightly oaked.
Pairing: Grilled Hawaiian Sea Bass, Sweet Corn Butter, Charred-on-the-Vine Tomatoes, Baby Bok Choy, Roasted Peach Beure Blanc
Tres Picos Garnacha 2006: I love this wine. Kevin and I have purchased cases of previous vintages and the 2006 is no disappointment. This wine is such a great drinker for such a bargain. This has a lot of deep berries and plums. It’s 100% grenache from some pretty old Spanish vines.
Pairing: Seared Earl grey Brined Duck Breast, Butternet Squash Puree, Chocolate-Blackberry Demi Glace, Mint Oil
Jorge Ordoñez Especial Moscatel 2005: Ah, dessert wine! I do enjoy dessert wine – almost as much as I enjoy dessert. This particular wine is not what you might expect – it’s not heavy and mead-like. Instead, it’s light and floral. In fact, I was sort of hit upside the head with the floral nose of this wine. It’s bright and easy to drink, with some honey, floral, and lemon notes – a perfect ending to a meal on a hot summer night.
Pairing: Brie-Pear Tart, Lavender Honey, Fig Compote
Other than the Moscatel, I’m fairly certain you can find the majority of these wines at either Liquor Direct or Party Source, both right across the river in Kentucky. I know that I’ve tried most of these before, which is what leads me to believe they came from one of those two stores. Party Town out at Turfway also has a fairly large Spanish selection. Overall, these are excellent pairings for the food and approachable wines.
In addition, to the previous wines, Andrew brought out a bonus wine for us, which got sent home with me in one of those remarkable Ohio Doggy Wine Bags. The 2005 Volver won’t be served at the wine dinner, but I’m on a quest to find out where to purchase it. (I emailed Cutting Edge as soon as I got home last night.) This wine is 100% Tempranillo, and although slightly less approachable than the rest of the wines we tried, really hit the spot for me. It’s a tempranillo filled with some spicy goodness of cinnamon and cardamon, but tempered greatly by the plum and currants. I loved this wine. I had Kevin try it last night as well, and it’s by far a for us both.
As I mentioned, I had never been to Oceanaire, so I learned a lot of things while we were there. Andrew sent me home with their wine lists – both the regular list and the reserve (which is quite an extensive book). I haven’t figured out the "sweet spot" on their list yet, but it looks like the decent selection of wines by the glass is priced at about what a bottle of the same wine would cost. Don’t get upset – this is a fairly standard pricing structure. For example, I recently picked up a bottle of McWilliams Chardonnay for $7.99 at Liquor Direct and a glass of that wine at Oceanaire costs $8. The list does mention that these are "generous 8 oz pours," which made me laugh. Remember that you’ll almost always get a better deal with a bottle at a fine restaurant. I imagine the wine list sweet spot falls somewhere in the mid-priced bottles.
Andrew also sent me home with their Happy Hour menu, which thrilled me to no end. Oceanaire’s Happy Hour runs from 5-7 every day and all drinks are $7. Kevin and I are always looking for new Happy Hours to try for dinner before we go to a show and I think next time we’ll go to Oceanaire. The food offerings run the seafood gamut, but also include Mt Carmel Beer Battered Fish and Chips. That’s my sort of seafood!
Both the menu and the happy hour menu both feature some incredible vintage cocktails, so I’ll definitely be back in to try a Sidecar.
Don’t forget to sign up for the wine tasting benefiting the
Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship. It’s Sept 11, 6-8 pm at the Party
Source. Pre-registration only. Sign up here.
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