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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wine and Cupcakes!

We’ve partnered with Market Avenue Wine Bar in Ohio City to bring you a unique wine experience. Join us at Market Avenue for a pairing of wines and cupcakes on Thursday, October 13 at 730pm.

A Cookie and a Cupcake will provide us with perfectly paired mini-cupcakes to accompany the tasting of our wines, and yours truly, the Chief Tasting Officer for Miss WineOH will be your host for the evening.

All wines will be available at retail cost following the event for take-home purchases.

Wines to be paired include:
’10 Misfit Wine Company ‘The Golem’ Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia
’10 Louis Laurent Vouvray , Loire France
’09 Charles Smith ‘The Velvet Devil’ Merlot, Washington State
’09 Belle Glos ‘Meiomi’ Pinot Noir, Sonoma/Monterey/Santa Barbara Counties
’05 Norman Vineyards ‘The Vocation’ 50% Syrah 40% Grenache 10% Mourvedre Paso Robles, CA

The price includes all wines and cupcakes, small palate cleansers, taxes and gratuity.
$40 per person.

Register for Wine and Cupcakes in Cleveland, OH  on Eventbrite


The Yumminess Within

cypress hill tasting room, mansfield, oh

Cypress Hill Winery

Or…. I want to go see for myself.

When planning a wine trip, no matter what area of the state, the country, or the world you plan to visit – I highly recommend doing your research first. There are wineries in every state, including our fair state of Ohio. What I’ll share is my experiences going to small production wineries on the east coast. Wineries in California can be a different animal, due to the popularity of CA wine country. Regardless, do your research, make sure you know what you are going to visit. It will save heartburn, an offended palate and sympathy buys.

One of the things that you will come across in wineries from the “Other 46” is wine made from grapes that are not grown anywhere near your winery. Wineries have a few choices when they start making wines. They can grow their grapes, buy their grapes from local vineyards or buy grapes or juice from anywhere in the world. It really depends on the philosophy of the winemaker or owner.

I’m not at all saying wines made from juice from Australia but crafted at a winery in Ohio are bad wines, but I prefer to taste local wines because they are grown and made in the area I’m visiting. The philosophy of “drinking local” is rooted in the concept of “terroir” (terr-wor), loosely translated as “a sense of place”. A wine made from non-local juice might give a taster a sense of the winemaker’s skill, but many winemakers will tell you that wine is made in the vineyard; that it has much to do with what happens to the vines; and on a secondary level with what the winemaker does as he is crafting it.

When you are looking at wineries, pay attention to the types of wine you like to drink. If you are up for an adventure, you will find fruit wines, sweet wines, vitas labrusca, and vitis vinifera in any combination. If you have a particular palate, you will want to choose wineries that make the styles of wines you like. But I’ll tell you, I have been pleasantly surprised by wines I didn’t think I’d like simply because I go into a winery willing to try whatever wines they offer. Its worth it to try at least one or two unfamiliar styles, particularly in Ohio, where tasting wines can be a very inexpensive proposition.

On the costs of wine tastings. Ohio does something that many other states don’t do. They charge for each individual taste, and do so at about the rate of $.25 or $.50 per taste. Some wineries do a full tasting or featured tasting charge for anywhere from $4 to $12 for the tasting.Most other states I have visited do their tasting as a set number of pours for a set price. A reasonable amount is about $6 for 6-10 wines. If a winery in this region is charging more than this amount, for my money, they had better have incredible, well known, award winning wines.

Now you’re in….

Once you are there, its a matter of tasting the wines. As an experienced taster, or a taster who wants to know more about wine, I encourage you to ask questions. Winery owners and winemakers, like anyone else, love to talk about themselves and their wines. Here is a short list of questions I always ask at wineries, or to the winemaker, if he or she is available.

  1. When was the winery started?

A very young winery most likely won’t be making wines from their own grapes. It takes 3 years for vines to produce viable grapes for harvest, so they could be buying grapes, juice, or even wine! It has become a more consistent practice, however, to wait to open tasting rooms until planted vines are producing – again, a little research should tell you if this is an experienced winery and winemaker – or one just starting out.

  1. What is the case production for the winery?

I ask this to get a sense of the volume of wine they produce. Smaller boutique wineries can have a different feel, or philosophy, from larger wineries.

  1. Which of your wines do you consider your “pride and joy”?

Every winemaker has at least one that he or she has puts their heart and soul into.

  1. What wine do you drink if you aren’t drinking your own wine?

I am always looking for new good wines to try – who better to ask than a winemaker?

  1. What new releases are coming?

A sense of the future of the winery! Always fun.

 Ok, its in my glass, now what?

wine glasses of white and red wine

 Well trained tasting room staff will give you information about each wine you taste, telling  you what varietals are in it, the vintage, if it was aged in oak or in stainless steel. If the  tasting room associate doesn’t provide the information, feel free to ask! Not every winery I  encounter is great about customer service, but when they are, WOW… you may walk away  with much more information than you ever thought you’d want.

When tasting a number of wines, always drink whites before reds, dry before sweet, and old  before young. This system allows your palate to adjust according to the qualities of each  wine.

These are the basic questions to ask:

                           What is the varietal?

                            What is the vintage?

                            Is this estate wine?

                            What oak do you use for aging this wine? (if appropriate)

If you are driving and want to stay sober, but still taste wine, consider spitting. While you  may feel weird about it at first,this is an accepted practice among tasters. I carry a opaque  travel cup in my car for this purpose, but many wineries will provide dump buckets – they  are perfectly fine for spitting. Also, do not feel obligated to finish a large tasting pour. Dump  the wine if you do not like it or do not want to finish it. This is also an accepted practice.

And then we have the purchase. You will be charged for tasting in most locations, so please purchase  a bottle only if you’d really like to take one home, but ignore that nagging feeling if there’s  nothing that you really like. Many who travel the wine trails have purchased the sympathy  bottle, and then struggled to remember why. Its okay to offer a polite thank you and go on  your way.

However, if the wine is really good, and the ambiance is to your taste, enjoy your visit by extending it a bit. Take in the scenery. Choose a glass or a bottle of wine from the selections provided. Grab a cheese plate, or bring your own picnic if the wineries allow it. Many wineries also provide music on the weekends to make your visit a truly memorable occasion.

What questions do you ask when you visit wineries?

Do you have any other tips I should add to the list?

Please leave them in the comments!

Southern Wine Trails is molting….

wine tastings, pairings, corporate events

We’ve shed the southern name, but not our southern sense of great customer service. Miss WineOH is expanding into the public realm, and with that, a new identity.

We’ve done private tastings for small groups for several years, and now we’re working with wine bars, galleries and restaurants to provide unique wine experiences. We’ll be doing Wine and Cupcakes pairings in Cleveland, Ohio Wine gatherings in Sandusky, Toledo and Tremont, bubbly bashes in up and coming galleries.

If you are interested in bringing a tasting to your business to promote your food, your location or your services, contact us! We are always happy to find new partners.

Corporate tastings are still the backbone of our business, and intimate gatherings of friends around wine and apps continue to be fun and personal avenues of joy. Let us plan your holiday party or special celebration.

Thank you to all the people who have supported this endeavor. Each and every one of you are special to me.

Please like the Miss WineOH page on facebook, where you can get updates on events and tickets.

New posts coming this week – stay tuned!

Tammy – Chief Tasting Officer

Where did the Wine go?

Labor Day weekend called for a trip to southern Ohio. Kinkead Ridge Estate Winery was going to be open, and we just had to taste their latest offerings. After hearing Brian Kirby wax philosophical about all things Kinkead, I knew that this was our chance.

With a 5 acre vineyard, they are known for their Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and also grow and bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, and Riesling. along with smaller quantities of Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc.

At the little house in Ripley, OH – home to their tasting room – which is open only select weekends depending on the quatities of wines available we encountered a lively group of tasters and many people discussing the wines.

From Kinkead Ridge website… my camera didn’t cooperate.

We were able to taste 5 of their wines. The 2009 reds were released under the secondary label, River Village Cellars. The whites are the 2010 release for Kinkead Ridge, plus their River Village traminette.

The 2010 White Revelation is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and some secret grape thatI couldn’t pick out. Its a tart wine, reminding me much of New Zealand SB – with just a hint of the vanilla that you get from oak. At $13.95, its a good buy for Sauvignon Blanc fans, but the alcohol, at 14.8% was a little overwhelming for us.

The 2010 Viognier/Rousanne has some of the very distinct viognier characteristics, but the addition of the larger amount of rousanne, I think, makes the wine just bit flat or flabby. At $15.95, its not one I’ll recommend for a quality-price ratio winner, but it does make a nice sipper.

The 2010 Riesling was MrWineOH’s favorite in the bunch. I’m not sure how many bottles we walked out with, but I know it was more than one. Nice and dry, with a 1.2% residual sugar. (I was shocked – I didn’t think it was more than .05%) Very crisp acidity, a fruity finish and a hint of efforvescence, this will be a wine we’ll thoroughly enjoy. At $11.95, it is definitely high on the QPR scale, but they only made 82 cases, so get after it… after I get mine.

The reds, as I said, were bottled under the secondary label. Ron Barrett noted in his winemakers notes that he was concerned about the 2009 vintage. That concern shows in the reds.

The 2010 Cabernet Franc… this is one I was SO looking forward to – and what I tasted was all oak, all the time. I had no notes of cherry fruit, no green pepper, just oak. I think many folks who like their oaky reds will love this, especially at the price point of $11.95 – but this is not the Cab Franc that we will go back to.

If I was looking for my favorite Kinkead Wine – I hit the jackpot with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of you might say… “Cab Sauv? In Ohio? Really?” but I have to tell you this one is delicious. Cabernet Sauvignon with a blending of petit verdot and syrah. The PV, one of my favorite varietals, shines through with its soft velvety finish. The Cabernet provides the fruity palate that many expect in a bold Cab. At $12.95 on the River Valley label, its a great value.

I want to love Kinkead, I think I was exposed to it at a bad vintage. I’ll be hunting for the older vintages in the wine shops, because I’ve heard amazing things about their Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

Please – try their wines. They do good work, and while I wasn’t overly impressed with a few of their wines, we walked out with a half case of the good stuff, and I’ve committed their Cab Sauv to my Ohio Wine Tasting lineup for the season. They are THAT good.

A Love Affair, with Wine.

While I’m constructing tales of our last two wine adventures, Darrell White, a twitter friend, volunteered to guest post. So here is his story of wine and love, and why he’s drinking under $20 whites these days. I hope to show he and his lovely wife the beauty of inexpensive reds in the future.

LOVE Wine Charms

The Tale Begins….

My brother just wouldn’t leave me alone. “Have you met Beth Hurst yet?” Having just arrived at the University of Vermont, a first year medical student plopped down in the midst of 3500 UVM coeds, I had no interest in meeting a girl who Randy had decided was possibly “The One”. Seriously…3500 girls who didn’t know who I was! No way, man. No girlfriend for THIS guy! This was gonna be fun!

Well, I’d love to hate him for it, but I can’t. My brother was right. I met Beth at a med school/nursing school picnic, went on one date, and pretty much said “so long” to my excellent adventure meeting those 3500 UVM coeds. We went from a couple of dates to pretty much spending as much time together as we possibly could. This was one of those classic good thing/bad thing situations, though. I discovered that I couldn’t concentrate on my studies with Beth sitting next to me in the Library so  we did an Upstairs/Downstairs arrangement so I wouldn’t flunk out. Worked pretty well, at least for the library issue.

There was the problem of our shared vocations,though. We found ourselves talking mostly about school, the hospital, medicine and such, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else. We risked a kind of burn-out, not only on our chosen fields, but also from each other. We needed some sort of hobby, something that we could learn about from scratch and enjoy together.

Enter Bob, the world’s most unlikely wine merchant.

Right next door to Burlington is the town of Winooski, a funky little mill town on the river that at the time was struggling to stay afloat. Keeping the rivers of beer flowing for UVM students was the “Beverage Warehouse”, purveyors of all of those kegs the frat houses rolled out on Friday and Saturday nights. Turns out the Beverage Warehouse was also the biggest wine merchant in the area. In the back of the building through an almost hidden door (it was almost like they were embarrassed)  lurked a cavernous room filled to the brim with wine. The room was populated by a single man, rather short and…how should I say it…round. Clothed each and every day in a pair of green Dickie’s work pants and a yellow Dickie’s work shirt with his name on the breast pocket.


What a find! Bob became our wine muse. He may still be the single most knowledgable wine guy I’ve ever met, including the sommelier at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. Here was a guy who made us feel like he had nothing better to do than teach a couple of kids who were two nickels short of a rub how and what to drink when it came to wine. Being the over-read wonk that I’ve always been I peppered him with questions about what was in the Warehouse, how it was stored, why it was priced that way, what he liked. I remember him chuckling when I pressed him about having the Opus One bottles upright on the shelves instead of on their side in a temperature controlled box. “Ah, they never stay here long enough for that to matter. The last 3 bottles I sold went to some idiot rich guys who drank the first one straight from the bottle on the way to the car.”

So began our love affair with wine, one that went a long way toward letting us continue our love affair with each other. We can both still remember our “firsts”, those first wines that made an impression. Best white? Easy. A Muscadet de Sevre et Main for…wait for it…$2.15/bottle! Can you imagine? Our first memorable red was an M. Marion Cabernet Sauvignon; no idea what year or where in California it came from, but I can STILL taste the amazing explosion of fruit, see the inky purple color. Cost us all of $4.25! Sigh.

Our wine “thing” (some would call it an obsession, at least for me not without reason) also became a very effective way to expand our social universe as we moved all over kingdom come chasing the medical training thing. The first wine “tasting” we held was in Beth’s Burlington apartment and was co-hosted by my sister, Tracey, a UVM senior at the time. White wine varietals, I think it was. Very few memories of that one, actually, probably because the one memory I DO have is that not a drop of wine was discarded. You know, the “clean plate club” approach to tasting!

On and on we went, our palates expanding with our income, our experiences becoming ever more extravagant along the way. I became an insufferable wine snob, conversant with Parker and the Wine Spectator and unwilling to suffer through anything rated less than 90 from either. Our tastings expanded as well. Those intimate, 6-12 person explorations of something new and different exploded into massive gatherings of 50-75, parties at which we happened to drink wine. In truth, our little diversion, our tiny shared hobby that allowed us to concentrate on our couplehood became too big.

Like work.

Until it went away. Funny, just about the time when we might have had to have an intervention for our dating intervention I got sick. Some sort of GI thing which was made worse by alcohol. Red wine was worse than white wine, was worse than beer, was worse than spirits. No alcohol for me for two, whole years. This, along with a not so little business and financial set-back, Beth’s rediscovery that beer was pretty good, and the Wall Street Journal’s introduction of a pair of wine writers who rated wine with words like “Delicious” and “Yech”, actually allowed me to fall in love with wine all over again. To fall in love with wine for exactly the same reasons and in exactly the same way as I did when Beth and I were squired through the process by Bob.

I stopped reading about wine, stopped checking ratings, and just started drinking wines that made me happy! Drinking stuff that I would rate as “yummy”. We’re on an under $20 white wine kick right now (at 50+ reds are giving us some problems), and we are drinking them together. Loving them, and falling in love all over again. Or maybe more accurately, falling more deeply in love, even after all these years.

With wine and with each other!

Dr. Darrell White can be found blogging at Sky Vision Centers – when he’s not enjoying wine with his wife, or doing CrossFit. His bio can be found here.  and you should call his offices for those things eye related in your world.
Or you can follow him on twitter
, and enjoy his tweets!

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