Tag Archives: wine tasting

Wine Dinner Night Out


red wineMy blog just asked, “Was it something I said?” because I’ve not posted since 3/31! No, Blog, it’s me. I’ve been blogging for others. For money. But I’m back to report on a very special event I attended at the end of April – a wine dinner. That’s right. I sometimes actually leave the house and do something social. I haven’t done one of these dinners in years and now I remember why they’re so appealing. Wonderful food paired with amazing wines, presented by people who really understand the concept.

Spagio’s Wine Dinner
Spagio’s is a restaurant in Grandview, Ohio that’s been open for close to 30 years. It’s one of those places that maintains an impossibly high standard of creative food preparation due to Chef Hubert Seifert’s talent and experience.

In addition to a chance to make a trip back to Spagio’s, my friend Colin Gregory recently became the restaurant’s Wine & Spirits Director (don’t you just love that title?) and presides over the Wine Lounge. It’s in the lounge that the wine dinner took place. I went with pal Ali, who happens to be Colin’s girlfriend. So, enough intro. On to the dinner!

Triumph Cellars Hosts
Calistoga, California’s Triumph Cellars owner Roger Louer hosted the event with Colin and Chef Hubert. It’s always a treat to meet the person that oversees creation of the wines. Here’s what was on the menu:

Amuse Bouche
Crisp Feuille De Brie

Filled with olives, goat cheese and almonds. This was a phyllo dough filled with those goodies. It was passed around as we mingled with other guests and met Roger.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasty treat was as good as it sounds and the richness of it was countered by the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc. I often find this wine to be too grassy and lightweight, but this one was bigger, fruitier and nicely balanced.

Shrimp Bisque
Garnished with creme fraiche & spicy shrimp.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Chardonnay.

I have to say I’m in the “ABC” contingent – Anything But Chardonnay, so keep that in mind. But this was wonderful. So much so that I was tempted to buy a couple bottles. Again, what stood out was the balance – not too oak-y or over-orchestrated, like someone tried too hard. Nice!

Arugula Salad
With roasted red peppers, feta cheese, tomato, red onion & sherry vinaigette.
Paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of arugula and this was a standout salad. Not one I’d immediately think of having with that wine. But it worked, even with the sherry dressing.  OK, on to the BIG wines…

Grilled Diver Scallops Wrapped in Thurns Double-Smoked Bacon
Served over celery root puree and finished with chipotle beurre blanc.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.

OMG, this was incredible! Diver scallops are one of my faves. What surprised me was the Cab did not overwhelm the scallops. The bacon was probably partly responsible for the nice complement. Have to say I’m also not a Cab fan. I love reds, but most Cabs are too big and alcoholic for me. This one was really wonderful and fruit forward.

Wait, there’s MORE! Ikr?

Oven Roasted Veal Loin
Served with risotto cake, caramelized carrots & a light porcini reduction.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Reserve Cabernet.

Who doesn’t love a porcini reduction with red meat? Yikes. It was fantastic. The wine was a perfect example of why a reserve gets the big bucks. There was an extra element that made this wine incredibly jammy, balanced and perfect with the veal.

Are you counting? That’s five courses so far and five wines. The finale was fun AND there was more wine…But before dessert, we were served a nice bonus – a very special red. 2007 Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain Cab Napa Valley. Wow! This is an $80 wine and they were pouring generous glasses. I’ve had more expensive wines (and as you know if you read this blog, much less expensive wines I’ve loved), but this was sensational. Now keep in mind, this is technically wine #6, but we had the Sauvignon Blanc twice. I would love to try this red another time when I’m not in a semi-coma from food and really feeling the other wines.

Key Lime Tart
This was served with a “Surprise Wine Selection.” Colin, Roger and Chef chose a local Ohio wine – white, off-dry, not quite a dessert wine but it paired well with the tartness of the key lime.

Although this was officially the dinner’s end, we were treated to a Port after-dinner wine – NV Calistoga Port. I like Port, but I’m not going to buy and open a bottle just for me. It was a nice finish to the evening.

So – great night, fabulous food, new wines  and great company. Maybe I’ll try to get out more…


Virtual Wine Tasting Event!


Hey, it’s happy hour, right? Or maybe just “less than morbidly depressed” hour. But whatever/whoever you are, welcome to our virtual cheap wine tasting event. Although this is a Single People’s Grocery Lists blog, all are welcome, especially to drink and report on cheap, good wines.

A couple disclaimers and thoughts:

  1. I’m not a pro, I just buy and drink at amateur status.
  2. Also, we don’t judge here (kind of like AA only a wee bit more fun) – if you like White Zinfandel and/or box wines, more power to you! I have wine-snobbish pals who have turned up their noses at a nice dry rose (that’s ro-say, but I don’t know where the accent thing-y is.) Hey, their loss!
  3. If you go to a wine store or wine dept. and they treat you like an idiot, leave and find a friendly wine person who is willing to educate you.
  4. Drink responsibly – no driving, texting, rotating tires or heavy-duty childcare whilst imbibing.
  5. Enjoy!

I’ll start w/ some of my faves:


I’m partial right now to Spanish and Argentine reds. What’s nice is that the prices so far are reasonable.

These are OH prices, so I have no idea if you’ll find these wines OR what the prices will be in your area.

Baguala Malbec 2008 Valles Calcharquies — $6.99 I LOVE this wine. In fact, I’ve ordered about 6 cases of it.  NOT ALL AT ONCE, OK!
Marques De Montana Garnacha – $6.99 You’ve probably had Grenache by itself or in a blend of table red.
Di Majo Norante Sangiovese – $9.99 OK, I know that’s a heady price, but this is a great wine. It’s Italian and try any Sangiovese you can get your hands on. Sometimes a blend, too.
Condesa De Sarabella – $7.49 For some reason I started calling this Spanish red “Condoleezza” and that was before what’s-his-name had the hots for her. Nicely balanced. Not amazing, but good.

These are all wines I found at Trader Joe’s. If God hasn’t blessed you w/ a Trader Joe’s, start a petition.

On to whites after I sign onto the lappie down near the wine fridge. For convenience of course…


I should have said in the disclaimer portion that I’m really not much of an American wine fan, at least not CA wines. And I am in the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay). I like different white varietals like Gruner Veltliner. I promise you if you go to work tomorrow and say you tried one last night, they will think you went to a crazy, underground Austrian after-hours club.

Rene Barbier Mediterranean White – Catalunya – $4.99 I know! This is a go-to summer fave. White Spanish blend.

Tierra De Luna Torrontes/Chard blend -$6.99 I know what I said about Chards, but this is an Argentine blend. You may not find it, but I’ve ordered a couple cases of it. Torrontes is an Argentine grape. You’ll see more of this, I’m sure. Yum!

I’m going  to post this now and continue w/ whites in Part Deux. Ewww, did that remind you of Charlie Sheen? Ick.

September Vogue and Cheap Granola


Here’s yesterday’s list. Not terribly exciting since I’m not having people over this weekend. That means maybe eating popcorn and peaches for several meals. It’s what we single people do…

  • September VogueI actually used to subscribe, but I’m really not a Vogue chick. I still buy the giant Sept. issue, though.
  • Granola – I’m trying to stay on budget and granola isn’t cheap. But I did manage to find some that doesn’t look like shredded styrofoam and bird droppings.
  • Cat food – his appetite’s off a bit, so he gets a wide variety this week
  • Baby food – ditto
  • 3 bottles of white wine – @ $4.99 each. Yes, it’s possible to find good, CHEAP wine. Speaking of – Don’t forget the Single People’s Grocery Lists Wine Tasting Event on Wed., Aug. 31st at 6:00 p.m.
  • Fat Free Half & Half – yes, I’m aware I’m kidding myself…
  • New York Extra Sharp Cheddar – I love the Vermont one, too, but Giant Beagle doesn’t carry it in cheap block form.

Did you notice that there’s very little edible stuff, at least for me, on the list? How does that happen? I meant to buy food. Really.