Cincinnati is lucky to have one of the best wine festivals in the nation. We get wineries from all over, distributors pop up to lead tastings, and even better, the week leading up to Wine Fest is generally packed with great events.
Enough people now know about the Thursday night dinners that they are mostly sold out. There are a few left and tickets are priced per person:
Daveed’s at 934 featuring Peter Franus Wine Company, ticket: $125
Eddie Merlot’s featuring Greg Norman Estates Wine with Morgan Leigh Norman, ticket: $125
Embers featuring Au Bon Climat, ticket: $150
Stone Creek Dining Co. West Chester featuring Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Bob Berteau, Head Winemaker, ticket: $125
You can order these tickets via the Wine Festival web site. Winery dinner sales close on Tuesday, March 8, at midnight.
If you find $125+ to be a tad steep, that’s okay. Chances are you can find the winemakers around town at various tastings. Ask around at your favorite wine shop and see if anyone special is dropping by. You see, while the distributors have the winemakers in town, they take them to as many shops as possible to both talk with the shop buyers and the consumers. Additionally, certain restaurants might be having winemaker dinners that are not officially linked to the Wine Festival. For instance, 20 Brix is having a dinner with JAQK wines (sold out though!) that’s not part of the “official festival.”
So check tasting schedules at various shops and restaurants or just give a call. Sometimes these tastings are pretty last minute. I’d start looking for winemakers to appear around Tuesday and for a few of them to last through Sunday.
Don’t forget, you can wrap up your wine festival week at Dilly Cafe on Sunday with one of those lingering winemakers – Rich Parducci. I happen to be partial to his Mendocino wines, so I recommend you reserve a spot for that brunch.
Hmm … that makes it sound like you’ll be having German winemakers for dinner. In truth, they’ll be having dinner with you at Bouquet in Covington. I don’t post too many special events lately, but I happen to be a huge (HUGE!) fan of Johannes Leitz and of the Nikolaihof biodynamic estate. If we hadn’t just replaced a lot of plumbing in my house and brakes on my car, Kevin & I would quickly shell out the money to go to this. Instead, I’m writing about it.
Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar will be hosting a German and Austrian Winemaker Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 20. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a champagne reception, followed by a five-course gourmet dinner at 7 p.m. prepared by chef Stephen Williams.
In attendance will be German winemakers Johannes Selbach of Selbach-Oster, Harald Hexamer of Weingut Hexamer and Johannes Leitz of Weingut Leitz, along with Austrian winemaker Christine Saahs of Nikolaihof. All of the featured winemakers, as well as wine experts Jeff Hickenlooper of Vintner Select and Nicole Mersmann of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, will be available throughout the evening to answer guests’ questions about the showcased wines.
The cost of dinner is $75 per person, including tax and gratuity. Space is limited. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call 859-491-7777.
The Winemaker Dinner Menu is as follows:
Nikolaihof 2009 Grüner Veltliner Hefeabzug
Smoked Scallop Crudo
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr 2009 Riesling Kabinett
Ossabaw Heritage Pork
Weingut Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg 2009 Riesling Quarzit
Duck Stuffed With Braised Rabbit
Sattler 2009 St. Laurent, Neusiedlersee
Duo of Hot and Cold Foie Gras
Weingut Leitz Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz 2009 Riesling Spätlese
Can’t figure out what to buy for the Cincinnati-based wine lover in your life? How about tickets to the Cincinnati International Wine Festival.
Held next year on March 10-12, tickets are already on sale.
It’s also the 21st birthday of the wine festival – for a festival dedicated to alcohol, there is a bit of humor in that.
Visit www.winefestival.com and get tickets to winery dinners (special winemaker guests are still TBD), Grand Tastings, the charity auction & luncheon, and hotel packages.
Additionally, the Wine Festival has announced that this year’s honorary chairperson is Justin Baldwin of JUSTIN Winery in Paso Robles.
It’s Thanksgiving and time to start shopping for gifts and, well, wine – not that we ever stop shopping for wine! If you are somehow mall-ed out (how is that possible?) on Saturday, Nov 27, you can relax in some of our fantastic local wineries.
Each year, a group of southern Ohio’s wineries open up their cellars for barrel samplings of unreleased vintages. I think this is the third year (don’t quote me on that) and I’ve yet to attend. We’re never in town for Thanksgiving weekend. But if you are, and if the weather cooperates, go visit some or all of the participating wineries.
It’s a great opportunity to visit local wineries that are often closed in the winter and snatch up their latest releases … not to mention trying some of their unreleased samples. For this year’s Annual Ohio River Valley Barrel Tasting Tour, you can visit
Hours and tasting fees vary by winery, so make sure to check the web site for more information.
Every year on November’s third Thursday, the latest vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau is released. Beaujolais Nouveau is a young red wine made from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France. Don’t age this one – Beaujolais is all about drinking it now.
French law dictates that Beaujolais Nouveau can be released at 12:01 am on the third Thursday of November. It’s so young at this point that the grapes were harvested only weeks earlier, with a short (obviously) fermentation period. Because of this method, the wine is often bright and fruity, with just a hint of tannins. I find it tastes best just a little chilled, and tends to pair nicely with Thanksgiving turkey, so it’s probably okay to age it about a week. 😉
Environmentalists and slow food movement folks tend to get all up in arms about Beaujolais Nouveau. After all, with such a short production cycle, it’s hard to get all that wine exported and ready to go by the third Thursday. Beaujolais Nouveau has one hell of a carbon footprint.
In recent years, Beaujolais producers have really been trying to curb their environmental impact. More and more producers are using environmentally friendly PET bottles, for example. PET bottles use similar material to the 2L bottles of Coke you can pick up at the grocery. The material is 100% recyclable and weighs nearly 50% less than glass. That means it weighs less on the flight over, using less jet fuel.
Of course, not everyone is flying the wine over on a super-fast jet. Georges DuBeoeuf, the largest producer of Beaujolais, has a dispensation from the French government allowing him to bottle and ship early – on boats. (Most of our wine from Europe ships on boats.)This year, Michael Skurnik Importers are bringing in both Domaine Madone and Paul Durdilly Beaujolais via boat. While this takes longer, it’s better for the environment than piling everything on a jet at the last minute.
Beaujolais is a wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Every year, parties are held around the world at 12:01, popping the first cork of Beaujolais. It’s a party wine. Keep that in mind when you pick up a bottle and you should be able to enjoy it with a smile on your face.
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