www.wine-girl.net
    Home   |   Archives   |   Calendar   |   Wine & Food Pairing   |   Wine Trails
Mar 07

2014 Wine Festival Notes

Just finished up my brief trip through the festival and while everything I tried was really nice, there were a few things that I’d like to highlight that were new to me.

Note: The local winery row was to the left of the hall as you entered. An the numbers start to the right of the entrance.

Terry Theise Selections (booth 12) – 3 very nice, yet different styles of growers Champaign. The Varnier Brut (100% Chard) had the most upfront yeast with a 2010 base, but grapes added from 2001-2009, the Pehu-Simonet (60% Pinot Noir/40% Chard) made using only their own grapes was more fruit focused, and the Marc Hebrart 50 Chard/41 Pinot Noir with 9% Still Pinot Noir added at the end of the process was a balance between the styles. The Contratto Extra Brut (Booth 15) was also a nice extra dry sparkling wine.

For Whites: Hoepler (Booth 99) once again had a very nice and fresh Gruner Veltliner along with the Pinot Blanc which was aged in Hungarian oak. The Bovin Chardonnay (Booth 132) from Macedonia was a 100% stainless steel offering and it is the only place to check off that country at the Festival.

Reds: Rob Murray Wines (Booth 28) had a few wines not yet available in the area yet. Both the Pinot Noir and the Force of Nature Zin are both arriving in May. This gives a nice opportunity to try them earlier. Cinnabar Winery (Booth 3) had the Sorcerer’s Stone which is available in Ohio and their California tasting room. It was a Zinfandel that worked really nicely for me.

Share on FacebookEmail This
Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Kevin at 3:56 pm in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
Mar 07

24th Annual Cincinnati International Wine Festival

It’s that time once again to celebrate with the International Wine Festival here in Cincinnati. It’s always a sign that warmer days are getting closer and after this winter, that is a really great thing. 14 countries, 143 booths most with 4-10 wine selections, and a selection of small food items has me excited this year.

I’ll try to get a post up in the late afternoon highlighting any specific gems, but feel free to add you finds in the comments. Did you try everything at Korbel (booth 115) and decide what type of Champagne you prefer? Or was your favorite a Moscato or an American sparkling wine instead?

Annually, we like to publish a few ways to get the most out of the overall experience. Here our list of tips and tricks compiled from our and other blogger’s experiences on how to best survive this festival:

Please realize that these tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered. If insanely drunk is your goal, well … get a cab and/or a hotel.
So in no particular order, here are our tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:

  • Decide when you want to go. The Friday Grand Tasting has always seemed more manageable to me, with slightly less people. The Saturday Grand Tasting is generally the biggest event, with what seems like an unending number of people. My favorite session is Saturday afternoon, as fewer people attend and I can get more face-time with the winemakers.
  • Eat a big meal before hand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a large meal afterwards. Either way, it’s a busy weekend downtown. Whenever you decide to eat, make reservations.
  • Consider a designated driver, cab service, or even a hotel room. Last year we decided to succumb to an afternoon and evening of alcohol and we got a hotel room. The Wine Fest web site offers several hotel packages downtown, and we often find great last minute deals at The Cincinnatian. In past years, we’ve had good luck booking through Hotwire. Remember, if you drink, please don’t drive. And if you plan to drive, please don’t drink.
  • Make a game plan. First, download the Tasting Guide ahead of time. In the guide, you can find the list of attending wineries, the corresponding floor plan, and the list of wines in the Special Tasting Room. Plan ahead. See what looks interesting. Accept that you can’t possibly try everything. You may want to decide to divide and conquer within your group of friends. I gave you my plan above,remember it’s only a plan. I am sure that I will deviate through the tasting as I find other things to try. I always like making a friend to find out what they have tried that I need to try. It’s an easy question and everyone has a few thoughts.
  • Dress comfortably. Seriously, ladies, there is no need for high heels. You can still look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home. You will be walking a lot, standing even more, and jostling in and out of a lot of people. Expect it to be warm in the tasting hall. Lots of people and red wine can raise the temperature in a room.
  • Since we’re talking about clothes, wear dark colors. I know it’s almost Spring, but don’t pull out your sundresses and pastels. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might very well careen into you. Lots of people + lots of alcohol = lots of wine accidents. Dark colors are your best bet. On that note, carry a small bottle of Wine Away or a Tide Stain Stick. Even if you don’t need it, someone else might.
  • Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get really crowded really fast. Enjoy being early.
  • Start at the end. Most people will start at the beginning. Starting at the end (or back) will allow you to fight a smaller crowd – at least until you make it to the middle.
  • Manage your route so that you visit the sparkling wine and champagne in between big wines. Sparklers are excellent palate cleansers and you’ll last longer if you try those in between the big reds.
    Save those dessert wines for last. One year I succumbed to temptation and had a chocolate port early on. As tasty as it was, my next ten wines still tasted like chocolate.
  • Hold your glass up and don’t tilt it sideways. Think about it – the wine will spill out. Holding it up higher makes it easier for the pourer to reach over all the bottles. Guys were better at this than gals last year, most likely because guys are just taller in general. Reach out with those glasses ladies!
  • The pourers are not bartenders. Seriously, don’t bang on a bottle with your glass expecting service. (And no, I’m not kidding.) And while we’re on the topic, say please and thank you. Just because you’re thirsty for wine, doesn’t mean that all good manners get thrown out the window. Some of the pourers are just volunteers and aren’t being paid to be there and everyone has been working hard for at least two days; in the case of winemakers, they’ve been going non-stop for nearly a week.
  • Move out of the way. I can’t stress this enough for the evening sessions. You don’t have to leave, but get your wine and move to the side. Don’t step back two steps, you’re still blocking the three people behind you and you’ll probably spill wine in the process.
  • Try new things. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they’re bad. Truly, some of the booths have the name of the distributor, but they might be featuring three or four different wineries. This is a perfect opportunity to branch out and explore a little. Who knows what you’ll find? There might be something you really like, even if it’s not Merlot and Chardonnay. The two questions I heard while pouring last year were “Do you have any Merlot? Do you have any Chardonnay?” The answer is not always yes, and there are some really exciting grapes out there that are not merlot or chard. If you see an Alicante Bouché for example, try it – you might be surprised. Chances are, the person behind the table can tell you a little bit about the grape as well, and if you don’t like it, then dump it.
    Spit or dump. A winemaker commented to me a few years ago that Cincinnati is strange because hardly anyone spits. Some thoughts on spitting:

    • Carry your own spit cup. Dixie cups work, as well as those Solo plastic cups. When a table is crowded, it’s hard to get to the bucket, nor do you want to be in someone else’s spit stream. Also, it’s easier to be discreet when you are quietly spitting into your own cup.
    • Dump instead of spit. I don’t spit at the Wine Festival. When I’m judging a wine competition, it doesn’t bother me to spit into a personal cup. But in our weird lack-of-spitting city, I get really self-conscious. So I take a small sip or two, try to really glean something out of it, and dump the rest of the wine into the bucket. It’s expected. You’re not wasting wine or hurting anyone’s feelings.
    • Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to have some snacks and water, as well as to regroup.
    • Hydrate, and wine doesn’t count. Bring water if they aren’t handing it out. But you’ll definitely want some handy.
  • Rinse strategically. You see, rinsing your glass is necessary occasionally. But when you’re switching between white and red, ask for a wine rinse. No one will complain. If you’re switching between the reds at the same table, you don’t need to rinse your glass between every one. Not only do you waste water, but no one ever gets all the water out of their glass. You know what that leads to? Watery wine, and you certainly don’t want that.
  • Don’t try to take detailed tasting notes. Sometimes I just rate things on my happy face scale; occasionally I’ll write a sentence. There will be no time for detailed information, nor will you really have free hands or space for writing.
  • And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. We pay to get in to the evening events. It’s a charity function. In fact, I believe 50% of your ticket is a tax-deduction as a charitable donation. So don’t try to get in free and skimp on those charities, okay? Instead, just go and have a fantastic time!
Share on FacebookEmail This
Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Kevin at 8:25 am in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
Jul 03

Red Roost Tavern at the Hyatt

by Kevin

As the Hyatt in downtown Cincinnati has been upgrading over the past year, one of the changes was to switch from Champs to a new restaurant in the lobby, Red Roost Tavern. They had a blogger dinner last week that I was lucky enough to join where the sous chef, Karol Osinksi, explained the courses for the evening, which were pulled from their everyday menu.

The concept is similar to a few other places around town, to use as much locally sourced items as possible. They even sourced the wood from different barns across Ohio that adds a nice roughness to the overall look. The bar has 10 taps, 5 of which feature different local beers. 6, if you count Sam Adams, which is, brewed right up the street. AS of last week the taps were: Rivertown Blueberry, Rivertown Jenneke, Rivertown Helles, Kentucky Burbon Barrel, and Mt Carmel Nut Brown.

They also have Tessora Limoncello available at the bar and they are looking at adding local wines in the near future. They have at least one ice wine on the menu as well, but this dinner was focused on beer and food.

I’ll leave the images to 5chw4r7z who is much better at photography. The food was a very nice sample of how they have decided to approach combining the need to be a hotel restaurant while still trying to pull the business crowd for lunch and the local diners for dinner.

First course was a Crab Cake, with an Asian inspired slaw. Overall, this was a very light cake with good crab flavor. The light breading helped keep the cake juicy and was a very nice start.

Second was a sweet corn soup with a smoked tomato jam. This was my favorite dish of the evening. The smoked tomato gave a extra kick to the sweetness of the corn. It also qualifies as a vegan dish as tofu and soy milk are used in the base.

The quinoa salad was very light and would be a nice light lunch in the summer. The candied walnuts and summer squash added a nice additional crunch into the quinoa.

The Red Roost fish and chips is different than what I was expecting. They offer a roasted halibut with garlic chips on the side. As I am a garlic fan, I thought that provided a nice offset to the fish. The roasting left my fish a little drier than I would normally prefer, but it was still very nice.

The pork tenderloin with a cherry reduction was served along with the Burbon Barrel Ale that helped compliment the sauce nicely. The pork was server perfectly and was one of the best courses.

Finally, we had a small amount of Organic Corn Ice Cream from Madisano’s. A very nice end to a rather impressive offering of dishes sized for a tasting event.

Overall, I really enjoyed everything about the evening, the ambiance was nice in their offset private dining area, the decor was distinctive, and the food was very tasty. I’m glad that the western side of downtown has another quality choice for dining throughout the day.

Beer:
Wine:
Food:

Disclosure: I received this dinner as a sample from Red Roost Tavern. The comments above are entirely my own and were not a requirement of the dinner. You can read our sample policy on our site.

Share on FacebookEmail This
Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Kevin at 11:16 am in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
Mar 08

Review of the Cincinnati International Wine Festival

by Kevin

Cincinnati Int'l Wine Festival 2013Cincinnati Intl Wine Fest

A few thoughts this year, first, I seem to have been excited about the right things. The ability to try different style of the same grape within seconds of each other is one of the key opportunities of the wine festival. For example, I was able to taste the Simi Sauvignon Blanc, a nice example of Californian style SB, and across the aisle was Thorny Rose,  which had a very nice counter example of New Zealand styled SB. The grassiness was even more pronounced when directly compared with the more acidic California counterpart.

If you are looking for a really nice selection of Rieslings from different regions and sweetness, Schmitt Sohne and Estates (booth 107) had a very nice selection of 5 different wines.

The still Pedro (booth 2) was a really nice wine and helps to show another side to what is usually made into sherry. McNab (booth 28) was as solid as always and highly recommended for a stop. Valeta had a Vijiriega that was a nice native Spanish grape that I had never tried before. It had a distinct mineral flavor that helps to showcase something unique to the region.

The sparkling wines were worth their own pass, but were mostly in the lower numbered booths. Vinum (booth 7) had a very nice showing with both their sparkling and a nice rhone based white wine. Across the aisle, Terry Theise selections had two examples of grower Champagne that helped to show the difference between a wine with Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir as the lead varietal.

Cutting Edge (especially booth 32) showcased a rather wide selection of wines. The 2011 wines from the pacific northwest were all tasting extremely well. The Four Grace Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris were both examples of this well made wine from that year. Learning more about the overall growing season from 2011, makes me interested in what other wines I can find from that year to try.

Michael David (booth 38) also had a very strong showing of their selection. Petite Petite, Rage, and Incognito were all very good. Ferrari Carrano (booth 42) had a very nice “patio pounder” with BellaLuce. It was also a part of a large number of stainless steel fermented wines. Oak seemed to be less of a consideration from most places that focused on having the grape do most of the work. Trinchero (booth 76) also provided a nice range of red wines.

To end the tasting, I would recommend Wineworth Importers (at booth 6) to try through a really nice selection of ports. The ten year old, which can be found in half bottles for around $20 in Kentucky, had a great almond flavor. When you get to the vintage 1996 port, the nuttiness and sweetness become apparent. I also learned that they avoid loosing large amounts of the vintage by combining barrels and reducing the amount of exposure to the air. This means that one barrel was sacrificed every few years to top off the others. It was a new piece of information for me.

I tried to get to as many different places as possible, what did I miss? Was there another star of the show? Let me know in the comments,

I’m happy to see what everyone else enjoyed.

Share on FacebookEmail This
Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Kevin at 3:44 pm in Wine Events, Wine Notes, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()
Mar 06

23rd Annual Cincinnati Wine Festival Preview

by Kevin

The Cincinnati International Wine Festival is upon us for the 23rd year! This Friday and Saturday, the grand tasting will be held at the convention center in downtown Cincinnati.

I will be posting as early as I can on Friday afternoon the highlights from the afternoon tasting, especially the surprises that I find. Every year my goal is to find something unexpected, unusual, or interesting. With 133 booths and a few hundred wines, I have never failed in this goal.

Tickets are still available for both Friday and Saturday nights and the list of wines seems both extensive and exciting. While it always nice to see a few favorite importers like Terry Theise(booth 11), Vintner Select(booth 14), Cutting Edge Selections(booth 32 thru 34) and many wineries from years past, for different reasons: Charles Smith/K Vinters (booth 4) from my wine bloggers conference in Walla Walla), Cline Cellars(booth 51) my first wine club, Henke Winery (booth 125) for teaching me that Norton can have a level of depth and quality, Veleta Wines (booth 56) for helping me learn that the story behind the wine helps to explain the taste, JAQK Cellars (booth 98) for beign able to highlight how different approaches to the a grape can have a very different taste in the bottle, and there is also a place for Bully Hill (booth 39) which was my first every winery experience in the Finger Lakes. I think that is some of the power of the taste of wine is that is can transport us back to a different time and place where we first got caught up in trying to learn as much as we could.

I’m also excited to try a few new things this year, a 2011 Chilean Pedro Ximenez (booth 2), Sivas Sonoma (booth 21) a new winery for me, the Italian selections from Dalla Terra (booth 48), hoping there might be a bottle of Pinot Meunier somewhere at a booth.

Beyond just my excitement, we always like to publish a few ways to get the most out of the overall experience. Here is our annual post of tips and tricks compiled from our and other blogger’s experiences on how to best survive this festival:

Please realize that these tips are geared for people who are heading to the Festival to try new wines, learn new things, and not get generally hammered. If insanely drunk is your goal, well … get a cab and/or a hotel.
So in no particular order, here are our tips for surviving a festival with hundreds of wines and even more people:

  • Decide when you want to go. The Friday Grand Tasting has always seemed more manageable to me, with slightly less people. The Saturday Grand Tasting is generally the biggest event, with what seems like an unending number of people. My favorite session is Saturday afternoon, as fewer people attend and I can get more face-time with the winemakers.
  • Eat a big meal before hand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a large meal afterwards. Either way, it’s a busy weekend downtown. Whenever you decide to eat, make reservations.
  • Consider a designated driver, cab service, or even a hotel room. Last year we decided to succumb to an afternoon and evening of alcohol and we got a hotel room. The Wine Fest web site offers several hotel packages downtown, and we often find great last minute deals at The Cincinnatian. In past years, we’ve had good luck booking through Hotwire. Remember, if you drink, please don’t drive. And if you plan to drive, please don’t drink.
  • Make a game plan. First, download the Tasting Guide ahead of time. In the guide, you can find the list of attending wineries, the corresponding floor plan, and the list of wines in the Special Tasting Room. Plan ahead. See what looks interesting. Accept that you can’t possibly try everything. You may want to decide to divide and conquer within your group of friends. I gave you my plan above,remember it’s only a plan. I am sure that I will deviate through the tasting as I find other things to try. I always like making a friend to find out what they have tried that I need to try. It’s an easy question and everyone has a few thoughts.
  • Dress comfortably. Seriously, ladies, there is no need for high heels. You can still look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home. You will be walking a lot, standing even more, and jostling in and out of a lot of people. Expect it to be warm in the tasting hall. Lots of people and red wine can raise the temperature in a room.
  • Since we’re talking about clothes, wear dark colors. I know it’s almost Spring, but don’t pull out your sundresses and pastels. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might very well careen into you. Lots of people + lots of alcohol = lots of wine accidents. Dark colors are your best bet. On that note, carry a small bottle of Wine Away or a Tide Stain Stick. Even if you don’t need it, someone else might.
  • Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get really crowded really fast. Enjoy being early.
  • Start at the end. Most people will start at the beginning. Starting at the end (or back) will allow you to fight a smaller crowd – at least until you make it to the middle.
  • Manage your route so that you visit the sparkling wine and champagne in between big wines. Sparklers are excellent palate cleansers and you’ll last longer if you try those in between the big reds.
    Save those dessert wines for last. One year I succumbed to temptation and had a chocolate port early on. As tasty as it was, my next ten wines still tasted like chocolate.
  • Hold your glass up and don’t tilt it sideways. Think about it – the wine will spill out. Holding it up higher makes it easier for the pourer to reach over all the bottles. Guys were better at this than gals last year, most likely because guys are just taller in general. Reach out with those glasses ladies!
  • The pourers are not bartenders. Seriously, don’t bang on a bottle with your glass expecting service. (And no, I’m not kidding.) And while we’re on the topic, say please and thank you. Just because you’re thirsty for wine, doesn’t mean that all good manners get thrown out the window. Some of the pourers are just volunteers and aren’t being paid to be there and everyone has been working hard for at least two days; in the case of winemakers, they’ve been going non-stop for nearly a week.
  • Move out of the way. I can’t stress this enough for the evening sessions. You don’t have to leave, but get your wine and move to the side. Don’t step back two steps, you’re still blocking the three people behind you and you’ll probably spill wine in the process.
  • Try new things. Just because you haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean they’re bad. Truly, some of the booths have the name of the distributor, but they might be featuring three or four different wineries. This is a perfect opportunity to branch out and explore a little. Who knows what you’ll find? There might be something you really like, even if it’s not Merlot and Chardonnay. The two questions I heard while pouring last year were “Do you have any Merlot? Do you have any Chardonnay?” The answer is not always yes, and there are some really exciting grapes out there that are not merlot or chard. If you see an Alicante Bouché for example, try it – you might be surprised. Chances are, the person behind the table can tell you a little bit about the grape as well, and if you don’t like it, then dump it.
    Spit or dump. A winemaker commented to me a few years ago that Cincinnati is strange because hardly anyone spits. Some thoughts on spitting:

    • Carry your own spit cup. Dixie cups work, as well as those Solo plastic cups. When a table is crowded, it’s hard to get to the bucket, nor do you want to be in someone else’s spit stream. Also, it’s easier to be discreet when you are quietly spitting into your own cup.
    • Dump instead of spit. I don’t spit at the Wine Festival. When I’m judging a wine competition, it doesn’t bother me to spit into a personal cup. But in our weird lack-of-spitting city, I get really self-conscious. So I take a small sip or two, try to really glean something out of it, and dump the rest of the wine into the bucket. It’s expected. You’re not wasting wine or hurting anyone’s feelings.
    • Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to have some snacks and water, as well as to regroup.
    • Hydrate, and wine doesn’t count. Bring water if they aren’t handing it out. But you’ll definitely want some handy.
  • Rinse strategically. You see, rinsing your glass is necessary occasionally. But when you’re switching between white and red, ask for a wine rinse. No one will complain. If you’re switching between the reds at the same table, you don’t need to rinse your glass between every one. Not only do you waste water, but no one ever gets all the water out of their glass. You know what that leads to? Watery wine, and you certainly don’t want that.
  • Don’t try to take detailed tasting notes. Sometimes I just rate things on my happy face scale; occasionally I’ll write a sentence. There will be no time for detailed information, nor will you really have free hands or space for writing.
  • And finally, don’t expect your friendly wine blogger to get you free tickets. We pay to get in to the evening events. It’s a charity function. In fact, I believe 50% of your ticket is a tax-deduction as a charitable donation. So don’t try to get in free and skimp on those charities, okay? Instead, just go and have a fantastic time!
Share on FacebookEmail This
Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.

Contributing Authors

Wine-Girl.net Rating Scale

Recent Posts

Categories

Wine Competitions Wine Book Club (WBC) Wine Judging Reviews Readings Whiskey Watch France Weblogs Games Wine Clubs Books RIP Repost WBW #65 Wine Glossary Wine Maps TasteCamp Web/Tech Marketing Uncategorized Legislation Recipes Florida Recession Wine Meet the Winemaker Greatest Hits Drink Pink! (BCRF) Holiday Current Affairs Television Spirits Photos Wine Shop Wednesday Contests Scotch & Whiskey History Disney Wine Tech Food and Wine Pairings Mad Men Monday Guest Writers Pop Culture Food and Drink Wine Blogs Knowledge Entertainment Dinner and Drinks Life Charity Benefits News Beer-Guy.net Special Events Beer WBW Local Wineries Cocktails Wine Shops Restaurants Travel Wineries Wine Notes Wine Events Weekly Cincinnati Wine Events Wine Misc Local Tastings Cincinnati

Links That Make Us Happy

Sponsors


sponsors

WineGirl on Facebook

Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship Fund

Raising money for a scholarship fund in memory of Michelle's little sister who passed away in 2007Click here for information on the Krystal Pepper Memorial Scholarship Fund.


Winner, Best Cincinnati Weblog 2007

Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

Ads from our kind sponsors …