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Feb 14

What? It’s Valentine’s Day?

On Tuesday night when Kevin said, "Is Valentine’s Day this week?", I was pretty sure that I wasn’t getting the necklace I want from Tiffany’s and that a dozen roses were probably out of the question.

In fact, we’re spending a fairly low key Valentine’s Day (or, you know, THURSDAY) evening at the Party Source’s Smooth Wines for Your Valentine tasting class at the EQ Center.

I would think that all of our area restaurants would be having Valentine’s Day specials, but I just wanted to call out a few. If you’re lucky, you can still get reservations.

I think the Henke Winery event, which includes dinner and paired wines for $89.95/couple, is an incredible deal. If we didn’t already have plans, I’d jump on that one.

Remember, you can also take a few moments to do a standard wine tasting, which can be romantic. Cork-N-Bottle always has Thursday night tastings, but I advise swinging by MicroWines in Kenwood to get a little more of the appropriate atmosphere.

Not part of a couple? It’s perfectly fine this Valentine’s Day. The event at the new Chalk is probably right up your alley. If you’re of the female persuasion, then pop by the always fun Tino Vino for a pure girls’ night. Enjoy!


318 Greenup Street
Covington, KY
Love Stinks: Singles Dining Event
Tasting Menu: $49
Wine Pairings: $29
Communal Seating Available
Reservations recommended.

Henke Winery
3077 Harrison Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45211
Valentine’s Day Wine & Dine
4–10 pm, $89.95/couple
Reservations required.

Jean-Robert @ Pigall’s
127 West 4th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Pigall’s has one heck of a menu planned.
$125/pp, $50 wine/pp

The Party Source
95 Riviera Drive
Bellevue, KY 41073
Smooth Wines for your Valentine
6–8 pm, $30
Reservations required.

The Polo Grille
8035 Deerfield Blvd
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Wine & Dine Your Valentine
All bottled wine 30-40% off
Special Valentine’s Menu from Chef Thom
Make reservations through OpenTable

Tino Vino
3665 Erie Ave.,
Cincinnati, OH 45208
513.871.8466 (VINO)
Love Yourself! Valentine’s Day Girls’ Night Out:
Representatives from Pure Romance, designer jewelry, purse vendors
Special prices on wine & appetizers
No admission fee. Reservations are not required.

The Wine Store 
9905 Montgomery Road
Montgomery, OH 45242
Thursday Wine Tasting: Ultra premium Cab Sauv from California
7 pm, $60
Reservations required by Jan 22.

Wine C.A.R.T
6206 Mulhauser Road
West Chester, OH 45069
Wine Murder Mystery Dinner
6–9 pm, $75/pp
Reservations required.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Oct 20

RSVP: Another Wine Dinner! Barresi’s

Everyone has all these great fall foods that are crying out to be eaten and paired with excellent wine or beer. In this case, we have another wine dinner – this time on the 24th of October. I call this one out, in particular, because of its location. There are so many of these wine dinners happening – a good number of them are on the 24th. But this is at Barresi’s.

I have a soft spot for Barresi’s. First off, it’s in Deer Park, where I grew up. But it’s more than that. Deer Park was a small place, and one of my good friends growing up was the step-daughter of Sal Barresi. That means I spent more than one night in the kitchen, waiting with my girlfriends to pick her up once she got off work at the restaurant. The kitchen of Barresi’s is where I first tried things like calamari – quite the delicacy when you’re 16 and picky.

I got excited when I saw they’re having a wine dinner, and that it’s a pretty decent price. $65/pp for 6 courses paired with Antinori Estate wines. I noticed, with a smile, that the 6th Course cheesecake is named after
my friend’s mom. Sal and Odessa no longer own Barresi’s, but it’s nice
to know that the new owners are building on the established favorites.

The courses are as follows:

1st Course: Baked brie en croute with fruit chutney
2nd Course: Roasted pumpkin spinach salad with pine nuts and crispy proscuitto curls, and vinaigrette
3rd Course: Lobster fra Diavio"
over pappardelle noodles
4th Course: Intermezzo from Madisono’s Market: Fresh seasonal sorbet
5th Course: Roasted tenderloin of beef in Barresi’s gorgonzola cream sauce with mushrooms and artichokes
6th Course: Odessa’s lemon cello cheesecake

Make reservations by calling 513.793.2540. 

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 12:01 am in Cincinnati, Dinner and Drinks, Food and Wine Pairings | Permalink | Comments ()
May 09

Merlot & Quesadillas

I’ve heard of Natalie MacLean. I get her newsletter and have read some of her book. I hadn’t ever spent much time on the web site. So right now I’m going to point you to it, because there’s a nifty tool you have to play with.

I get a lot of hits on "wine & food pairing" because it’s one of my categories. That means I write about figuring it out though – not that I have all the answers. However, on Nat Decants, there is a swanky little wine and food pairing tool. Enter your type of food (I entered appetizers -> ethnic -> quesadillas) and it pops back several recommended varietals. From there, you can search for Natalie’s recommendations within each varietal. You can also find recipes that will go with your wine, or that complement the food you entered. The site also offers archived articles, video, and podcasts, but I’m rather taken by the food and wine pairing tool. Is it always accurate? No. But it does help out in those situations when you just aren’t sure what to purchase. Now, if she’d just take it mobile …

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 12:01 am in Food and Wine Pairings, Knowledge | Permalink | Comments (3)
May 07

Chasing the Butterfly

Kevin met Edouard Vaury at the Cincinnati Wine Festival a few weeks back. Edouard, of OWS in Miami, represents Chamarré and was kind enough to provide a pair of bottles for review. In honor of the great weather lately, we started with the Chamarré Sélection Dual Varietal Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. The wine is not yet available in our area, so we’re not entirely sure of the price point, but we know it is intended to be an affordable wine. We cover both the marketing and the wine in this post, but you’ll have to follow the jump to read the whole thing.

The Marketing
Chamarré (pronounced sha-ma-ray) is a fantastic example of French wine using creative marketing and trying, if a little belatedly, to compete with the cute-label-critter wines of the world. It’s a great look at how one group of vintners is trying to combat the Yellow Tail Effect. The vintners represent every major winemaking area in France. Their grapes are drawn together by Renaud Rosari, winemaker for  Chamarré.

Chamarré is targeted for the wine drinker who wants an inexpensive but quality wine – from France. Their logo and labels all effectively use a butterfly.  I recently learned that all logos should have a deeper meaning. I suspect the butterfly is a representative of the changing world of French wines and rising up, full of color, to take on the challengers. That’s just a creative guess though. Don’t quote me on it. Chamarré means bursting with color, bursting with flavor, in French.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Michelle at 1:53 pm in Food and Wine Pairings, Marketing, Tastings | Permalink | Comments ()
Apr 30

The Napa Grille Cincinnati, Again

UPDATE, 9/10/2007: We just learned that The Napa Grille suddenly
closed. The employees have all gone elsewhere and the restaurant is no
more. I can’t tell you how sad we are that this happened. We’ll miss
The Napa Grille.

In February of 2006, Kevin and I ate at a new restaurant called The Napa Grille, which we really liked. (See the blog post of that meal here.) Since then, we’ve returned twice, including Saturday night.

The first great thing about The Napa Grille is the reservation system. I’ve mentioned before that I’m quite enamored of OpenTable.com, which allows you to make all your dinner reservations online. Every time I log on to the site, I’m surprised by the number of new restaurants available in Cincinnati. The Napa Grille has been online with OpenTable since they opened in January 2006.

Last night we were joined by our friends Kate & Ben. We had 6:30 pm reservations and were immediately seated. We had excellent service over the course of the evening from Beau Bacon, the manager, and Geoffrey, our server.

The wine selection was amazing. In fact, you can download the 30-page booklet of 101 by-the-glass/by-the-taste options. You can also order from a wide selection of wine flights or create your own. It’s an expansive list compiled in a binder, including information about each wine and winery, as well as ratings from Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, and others. The Napa Grille also uses an Argon wine preservation system, which safely displaces oxygen from the opened bottle. (I’ll review the wine at the end, after the jump.)

We started with several wines recommended by Beau. From there we moved on to the California Artisanal Cheese plate. This was good, but had more fruit than cheese. We all ordered a second round of different wines to try with the cheese plate. For dinner, we all took different paths. At Geoffrey’s recommendation, I tried the special of the evening – mahi mahi with lavender jasmine rice and a mango salsa. It was delicious. Ben had the duck, Kate had halibut in a lobster truffle sauce (this was quite tasty) and Kevin ordered the 6-oz filet with fantastic whipped potatoes.

To accompany our food, we each ordered a wine flight. At that point we had upwards of 12 glasses around our table. Following dinner, we each had a pinot noir sorbet that had recently been dreamed up by Beau and the chef. It was really sweet, but quite tasty. Sort of like a wine slushee. Following this we had dessert. I believe there was a cheesecake, an opera cream torte, and in my case, the chocolate decadence cake – soft, warm chocolate sponginess filled with warm oozing chocolate. Kate & I each had a dessert wine and Ben followed his meal with a glass of scotch.

The Napa Grille earns a giant happy face from all four of us. Our meal lasted around 3.5 hours, yet we never felt pressure to rush through our meal. Geoffrey, our server, was knowledgeable and helpful. He easily tread that fine line between being attentive and not hovering. The food was quite good, but that was to be expected. The service and food has been consistent for Kevin & I across our three visits.

At this point, we only have one suggestion to improve the Napa Grille. We’ve been spoiled by Bin 36 in Chicago, where each wine flight comes with a pre-printed sheet listing the name and region of each wine. It provides the information you need as well as place to take notes. After all, if you like it, you want to remember the details. It would be great if the Napa Grille added this to their flights.

The Napa Grille is a hidden gem, quietly existing in the bottom floor of the Hyde Park Regency. One of Cincinnati’s best kept secrets. I hope they start offering wine tastings and winemaker dinners to help draw attention to a quality little place.

Our rating:

The Napa Grille
2444 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208
Cost: Expensive, but worth it

Wine notes after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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