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Learn your way around the wine list
101 Main Street
Milford, Ohio 513-831-2749
Every now and then you want a special evening of as fine of dining as you can afford. You pick a hot spot, dress to impress, check your funds and head off in your freshly waxed ride, ready for a fine time-regardless of the bill to come. You get a mouth watering anxiousness while waiting for your table, high expectations are abound all around. If you’re in a rave reviewed restaurant, your likely to first be faced with the wine list. If your like most, you scan the list of semi pronounceable names and wonder if any of it is worth the $15 a glass prices. If your like many, you decide not to take chances, toss the menu aside and go straight for the appetizer menu.
Many diners have no idea which wine to order because they have no idea what they like. The sad thing is, nothing on the menu pairs well with Pepsi. If your looking for a truly enjoyable experience, you have to savor the flavor of the whole affair. Your drink should work in tune with the dish to enhance both the food and the experience. A perfect harmony should sing so loud even a novice catches the tune. Example: Buffalo wings and Hard Cider. The heat of the sauce is washed away with the sweetness of the apple. The cider’s bite cuts the richness of the Blue Cheese. That’s super simple comparison but one easily related to. Cider would not have the same effect on sweet baby back ribs. Two sweet flavors have no compliment, no compliments and everything gets mixed together and nothing stands out. The right wine makes the food sing.
The flavors of wine are so varied it would take at least 14 pages to get through them all (who wants to read that). Nearly every flavor can be found; sweet & sassy, bold & rich, dry or bitter are just the basics. Taste it with attention and you’ll find herbs, fruits, honey, nuts, and even grasses in the subtle tones. A wine connoisseur can quickly scan a list and choose a wine that brings out the best in your dish’s flavors. You’ll notice herbs & spices in your food that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. That’s the reason you order wine to begin with (well, one reason anyway).
The average Joe may have no idea which wines taste like what. The server may not know much more (and usually doesn’t). A sommelier (wine expert) has made a career out of pairing and identifying wine flavors, but your not likely to find one at just any Cincy hot spot. When you do it’s not likely they will steer you towards the lower budget selections either. Even if you do get a recommendation it may not suit your tastes. Then you’ll think “If this is good wine... I don’t like wine”. You just have to develop a working knowledge of the flavors for yourself. But where do you begin?
Enter 20 brix. 20 Brix is ran by two sommeliers (Hunter & Richard Thomas). The manager (Clay) and the chef (Paul Barraco) are no wine slouches either. Since they train the servers personally, it’s safe to say your in good hands here. 20 Brix doesn’t want anyone to feel “too newbie” to miss out on making the most of their meal by skipping the wine. Of course hardcore wine aficionados flock here for the select varieties and hard to find labels. But all that stuff is for the folks with “a nose” (a term for people who can take a wine apart piece by piece by the aroma). They probably subscribe to Wine Spectator, this article is for the folks who know nothing (except of course what a Zinfandel & Chardonnay is).
The only way to learn what you like, what it’s name is and what you just want to spit out, is by tasting it. 20 Brix hosts frequent wine tasting events. The prices vary, the wines vary and the food is very very good. Food you say? Of course! What good is tasting wine without tasting the food it pairs well with? Chef Barraco sends out a plethora of tapas sized dishes while a wine expert guides you through each variety in the pairing. You’ll usually sample at least 5 food/wine combinations at a tasting. It’s cool, casual, informative and the perfect way to develop your own palette (a term for the range of wine flavors your familiar with). Not to mention it’s more than just a learning experience, it’s damn good food too.
After just one or two tastings you’ll no longer look at a wine list like a preacher trying to pick out porn (actually that might not be a good analogy). Nevertheless, you won’t be nervous or intimidated to take the plunge and go for something your familiar with the next time your presented with the wine list. In fact, you may find yourself actually suggesting a wine for your friends, spouse or family based on your tasting experience. Bottom line on wine is... it’s all about what you like. Hell, after all some like Pepsi some like Coke, it’s all preference.
Check www.20brix.com for tasting dates. They’re not limited to wine either, there is also cool beer tastings too. If you thought Bud Light goes with everything think again (it’s total piss foreign water & rice beer just accept it and move on). There are many microbrews that are so good they will have you asking for them by name the next time you order a great dish that pairs perfect with it (or acting like a angry beer snob when you find mid-meal that your bartender has never even heard of a Brooklyn, Dogfish or an Anchor). There is so much to experience and learn about wine (and beer) it will take years. No doubt about that. A great tasting is the perfect place to start. A 20 Brix tasting doesn’t just offer a perfect start, it offers perfect food to boot.