Once you have mastered surviving a festival, you can start to apply a few other techniques on navigating the amazing number of options you have. Here are a few different ways that I have approached large tasting events:
This is the basic system of picking an end and working your way around stopping at each booth along the way fully tasting options that appeal to you. The advantages are very little up front planning and it gives a large amount of time to socialize with your group. It does require you to switch from sweet to dry at every table and I remember the time I tried a heavy desert wine and stained the glass for the rest of the evening.
The two variations of this are stop at the shortest line or stop at the largest line. By stopping at a short line, you can get a little more personalized attention from whomever is working the booth. When this is a winemaker, winery rep, or distributor they can be very knowledgeable about what you are tasting. The additional information can give a better appreciation of the style and help to improve your overall knowledge. The long line theory is that this many people cannot be wrong. It’s a gamble that the wait will be worth it when you get to the front. Usually this line will make it more difficult to engage in conversation and learn about the wines.
This requires a glance through the program to see if there are any varietals or wineries that you have been wanting to try, but have not had the opportunity. It could be a desire to try something else from a place you have heard about, like Canadian Ice Wine (Booth 89), a new varietal like Blaufraenkisch (Booth 93), or a producer like Orin Swift (Booth 22). These are only a few examples. You could also visit local winery booths (along the left wall this year).
This is an additional layer of planning, but can be worth it. The goal of this is to try all wines of a certain type or color before moving on. Only whites, then rose, finishing with reds. This really helps when you like certain varietals or want to be able to compare the same type of wine from different regions and producers. The difficulty is remembering any place you want to return to on the next round.
The main goal of the wine festival is to have fun and enjoy yourself and the company you are with. These are a few suggestions on how to make the most of your time in the convention center this year. Anyone have other approaches? Did I miss an obvious way to navigate the large amount of choice? This year, I’m excited to revisit Pinot Meunier (Booth 116). This is the third grape used in most Champagne along with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
February is shaping up to be a great time to be a beer drinker in the Cincinnati area. The weather’s cold and the nights are long, but there are an amazing number of events coming in the next few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown:
In a few weeks, it will be the inaugural celebration of Cincinnati Beer Week. An official site has popped up to try and track the various events around the city, but I recommend hopping over to the Hoperatives blog for their take on the latest information. Here are a few of the events about which I’m excited:
Thursday February 2
Party Town Local Breweries Backroom Brawl from 6:00 – 8:00pm
Party Town kicks off Cincinnati’s Inaugural Beer Week with a “Backroom Brawl” of only local craft brews featuring the “Cincinnati Beer Week Barleywine,” a collaboration between local brewers, and our 18 tap growler program voted “Best of 2011″ by Cincinnati Magazine! Cost $2.00
Friday February 3
Arnold’s Bourbon Barrel 1861 Porter Happy Hour Tapping at 5pm
In honor of beer week Christian Moerlein has remixed a batch of the Arnold’s 1861 Porter. Arnold’s is already the only place that you could get the Porter, but for this special release, Christian Moerlein will be aging the same beer in a bourbon barrel.
Saturday February 4:
Cincinnati Brew Ha-Ha! from 07:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Cincy Brew Ha-Ha Winter Edition will bring all that has been enjoyed over the past 5 years indoors to the Cintas Center on Xavier University’s campus for its Winter Edition. This one-of-a-kind local event features top beers and top comedians creating the perfect recipe for a great time. From ales to lagers and pilsners to stouts, there is something for every type of beer aficionado – including 6 firkins! Cincy Brew Ha-Ha Winter Edition will feature over 80 selections of beer to sample and multiple comedians on 2 stages.
Additionally, there are a bunch of other events, including a 3 Floyds beer dinner at Tellers (2/8) and a selection of Left Hand beers on tap at the Hyde Park Cock and Bull (2/9) . This all leads up to the Cincinnati Winter Beer Festival on the 10th and 11th. Last year, this event was a great time and apparently it’s going to be even bigger this year. Click over to their site for more information and tickets.
On Feb 25, the Moerlein Lager house will be opening as part of the Banks, adding the first alternative to the Holy Grail, which opened last March. Tickets are $150 and the doors open at 6:30. More information can be found over on the Lager House official website.
I’m off to drink a Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere. That should help keep me sated until next month.
This Saturday I decided to go the Ohio River Valley 6th Annual Barrel Tasting. First off it was a beautiful day and what a lovely drive. Since I live in Northern Kentucky, I decided to go to Harmony Hill Vineyards in Bethel, then to the Ripley to Miranda-Nixon Winery and then end at Kinkead Ridge Winery.
Disclaimer: When sampling wines that are still aging in the barrel are not complete or finished products. So when tasting them you can taste the potential of what they will be. All of the wines I will will be talking about came straight from the aging barrels.
My first stop was Harmony Hill Vineyards. As we drove back to the tasting room and the barrel tasting all we could think of was how beautiful and quaint it was. Harmony Hill is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and everywhere you look there are donkeys, fawns, birds, and many other wildlife. The Barrel tasting was held in the underground wine cave. We tried 2 wines a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chambourcin. The Sauvignon Blanc was good you could tell when it’s done aging it would be a crisp medium bodied wine. The Chambourcin was decent, but when you tried the finished product in their tasting room it was yummy. A great bold red wine with tastes of oak, currant, and pepper. My suggestion if you go to Harmony Hills go during their summer months, pack a picnic basket and buy a bottle of wine and listen to the live music. Its a whole entertainment experience.
Second was Miranda-Nixon Winery, this place was beautiful too! Not only can you see the acres of vineyards its next door to a horse farm. We sampled 3 wines from the barrel a Chardonnay, a Sangiovese, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chardonnay was amazing and it will be even more amazing once its finished aging. The Sangiovese was young of course but you could tell it had great potential when finished aging. I liked the Cabernet but I really thought the other 2 had more potential. There tasting room overlooks the hills of the vineyards and the horses on the farm. We tasted some of the wines in the tasting room and I fell in love with 3 of their wines. The 2010 Traminette (a crisp white wine that has a hint of sweetness), 2010 Catawba (a blush wine with hints of citrus and sweet), and the American Cabernet Sauvignon (a balanced cab with hints of berry flavors with a semi-dry finish). My suggestion go to their Saturday night tasting dinners $55 per couple accompanied with a bottle of wine with your choice of Salmon or Steak.
Now I have saved the best for last! My favorite Winery was the Kinkead Ridge Winery, they have their wines mastered. These wines will stand the challenge against of any wines anywhere. We first tasted wines as the finished product and then we tasted them out of the barrel. The first wine we tried was their Cabernet Franc and I all ready knew I wanted to buy a bottle. We tried 4 wines from the barrel and all of them were showing strong characteristics of big red wines. We started off with the Cabernet Franc which all ready had some tanins, a hint of cherry, and a little spice aftertaste. This was by far my favorite out of the barrels. I then tried the Cabernet Sauvignon which was on its way to be a full-bodied tanic cab. It was of course still in its young stage but it sure showed potential. Next we moved onto the Syrah which was a little more fruitier tasting or lighter tasting than I would expect from a Syrah. I’m sure after it’s fully aged and bottled the wine will be great after a few years of aging in the bottle. The last barrel tasting was a Petit Verdot this was also showing strong tannins and a spicy aftertaste. This will be the wine to buy when it gets released next year. Trust me when all of the wines get released next year, I’m going to be the first in line to purchase them.
] Pictured: I’m with the winemaker of Kinkead Ridge Winery, Ron Barrett, I bought the last bottle of Viognier/Roussanne which he autographed for my collection. Here it is on their website.
Cheers and remember support all your local vineyards/wineries. You’d be surprised what’s in your own backyard.
Ages ago, when it was still insanely warm outside, someone from Morton’s excitedly contacted me, wanting me to write about their seasonal cocktail. And no matter how yummy that cocktail sounded, I stuck to my guns. Just like my beloved Nordstrom’s, Wine-Girl celebrates one holiday at a time.
But … it’s almost Thanksgiving week and, as relatives descend upon you, you just might be craving something to get you into the holiday spirit (goodness, I need the help!). Morton’s does have the perfect cocktail right now.
The signature cocktail, called a Sparkling Cinnamon Apple, features Lunetta Prosecco, Lindeman’s Pomme (Green Apple) Lambic, Monin Honey Syrup and homemade, hand shaken whipped cream. (We’ve got the recipe below!)
The Sparkling Cinnamon Apple cocktail is $14 and is available through Dec 31 at the Morton’s The Steakhouse downtown location in Carew Tower, overlooking Fountain Square and I assume at most Morton’s locations the nation over.
4 ounces Lunetta Prosecco
2 ounces Lindemans Pomme (Green Apple) Lambic
½ ounce Monin Honey Syrup
2 ounces hand shaken whipped cream
Dip rim of champagne flute into honey syrup and then into cinnamon sugar to rim the glass. Pour honey syrup, Prosecco and lambic into a shaker over ice. Stir with spoon 10 times. Strain into champagne flute. Top with 2 spoonfuls of whipped cream. Dust with cinnamon sugar.
Homemade Whipped Cream
Makes six toppings
4 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 dash vanilla
Pour all ingredients into shaker. Shake vigorously 25 times. Spoon 2 spoonfuls of whipped cream on top of cocktail. Refrigerate and reshake as needed.
Cocktail created by Morton’s Vice President Wine & Spirits, Tylor Field and Mixologist and Certified Sommelier, Sara Fasolino.
This Saturday, Party Town is spicing up their free wine tasting with some art! They are welcoming Cindy Crofoot as featured artist in their first Wine & Art Show, from 3pm to 6pm, to kick-off the holiday season.
Ms. Crofoot, a local artist from Southeastern Indiana, specializes in Traditional Realism in oil on canvas, including Landscapes and Still Life. She will be displaying many works during the Party Town wine tasting. Her catalog of pieces can be viewed at her website, www.cindycrofoot.com.
“With Thanksgiving coming next week,” says Drew Murphy, General Manager of Party Town, “we thought an Art Show would be a great way to get people in the Holiday mood just a little early.”
Party Town’s tastings, free and open to the adult public (21 and over), are held weekly on Saturdays and Sundays, from 3 to 5 PM, but for this special event the time will be extended to 6. Sunday will also be a regular tasting, but the art, sadly, will be gone.
This Saturday’s tasting is larger than normal, with 12 bottles from which to choose! The red table will feature the likes of Triton Tempranillo, out of Spain, Longboard Vineyards Point Break Red from California, the Loring Wine Company’s Cargasachi Vineyard Pinot Noir, Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, Clerico Barolo Ginestra from the Piedmont in Italy, and Ben Glaetzer’s Amon-Ra Shiraz from Australia. The white wine table looks to be just as much fun, with wines from Charles Smith Winery’s Kung-Fu Girl Riesling out of Washington, Mohua Sauvignon Blanc out of New Zealand, William Hill Chardonnay out of California, Stag’s Leap Karia Chard from Napa, and Carl Schmitt-Wagner Riesling Auslese 2004 from Germany. To wake your palate up to such treasures (if needed), we’ll also be pouring Humberto Canale’s Extra Brut Sparkling Wine from Argentina.
Remember, both the tasting and the art show are free, so have some wine and enjoy yourself!
Party Town is located at exit 182 Turfway Road off I 71/75 in Kentucky.
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