Dining Guide: Wine tastings educate customers in fun atmosphereWritten by Michael Stainbrook | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you are a sommelier, an avid wine fan or have no clue what that French word means, several local restaurants offer drink tastings to educate you and match your palate with the perfect beverage.
Tasting wine is a multisensory experience, but it all begins with the drink’s appearance. Darker-colored red wines and lighter-colored white wines are younger. Red wines lighten with age, while white wines darken. Typically, yellow wines indicate a longer aging process.
“You always want to make sure there’s sediment in the bottle,” said George Burk owner of the Vino 100 Wine Shop, Bar & Lounge at 3355 Briarfield Blvd. in Maumee.
Vino 100 hosts special wine-tasting events throughout the year, the next of which is Aug. 31. Burk said customers appreciate wine with dinner more than sampling several varieties alone. Flights & Bites is one option of wine tasting available at the bar. Customers sample a flight of four wines served with bread, olives, cheese and almonds for $15.
The samples equal two glasses of wine.
Vino 100 also offers beer flights and a wide variety of martinis.
Burk said the bar has hosted tastings for bachelorette parties and bridal showers, during which tasting tips are offered. Between private events and normal business, Vino 100 has thrived.
“We’re the new kids on the block right now,” Burk said, suggesting customers consider a reservation for quicker service.
“I don’t know how these people say the economy is bad when everybody’s going out to eat.”
La Scola Italian Grill, located at 5735 Airport Hwy. in Toledo, hosts monthly wine tastings throughout most of the year.
Co-owner Moussa Salloukh said he scales back on tastings late in the summer and during the back-to-school season because people are often too busy to enjoy such an event. He plans to resume tastings in October.
“My vendors will call and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got so-and-so here from Italy,’” Salloukh said. “We’ll sit down with the vendors, taste wine with them, put together entrees with them.”
Salloukh said white wines normally call for fish, while red wines are best served with lamb or a cut of beef, such as tenderloin or filet.
La Scola publicizes its tastings through Facebook, Twitter and the restaurant’s website. Attendance is limited to 35 or 40 people to keep the experience intimate, Salloukh said. A five- or six-course event with wine costs patrons between $50 and $65. If only appetizers are served with the samples, the cost runs between $20 and $25. Wine flights typically include six or seven 2-ounce samples of the vendor’s wines. Simpler wines are served first to acclimate customers for more complex wines later in the evening.
“We make it a blast,” Salloukh said. “There’s a lot of wine groupies out there that are getting into it. People love to be educated on wine.”
La Scola also hosts martini tastings and scotch dinners.
Mancy’s Restaurant Group hosts several wine tastings every year at three of its local restaurants, and all four Mancy’s restaurants will team up for a wine event in October.
“Our event in October will be the first time we’ve ever done anything with all four restaurants,” said George Mancy, manager of Mancy’s Italian Grill, 5453 Monroe St., where the event will take place. Mancy said the event will feature four courses of pork and pinot noir from the West Coast.
“When we do wine dinners at Mancy’s restaurants, we usually have a winemaker or someone from the winery talking about each wine during each course, educating our customers on that,” he said.
Mancy said most wine tastings feature four or five varieties of wine. A basic wine may be served before, and four are served during a four-course meal. Wine dinners range from $50 to $80, depending on the types of wine and entrees served.
Tea Tree Asian Bistro, 4100 Chappel Drive in Perrysburg, offers three types of wine tastings. The restaurant hosts tastings of traditional wine and martinis, Asian wine and sake, a rice-based Japanese wine.
Manager Lynn Wang said Asian wine is more herbal and healthier than other wines typically served at restaurants. Sake tasting is paired with sushi tasting. The restaurant emphasizes education through cooking classes and explanations about its cuisine.
“I think people appreciate it more and see the other side of the business,” Wang said. “I think people really appreciate why it tastes different than down the street. There is a difference in how we prepare things.”
Like other restaurants that host tastings, Tea Tree serves basic wines before progressing to more complex varieties.