Tag Archives: wine

Sipping Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field (or Scott Writes a Sonnet)

Scott and I decided to switch things up at Grapes & Ale this year. I’d be the designated driver, and he’d have an opportunity to sample all of the wine. The only catch? That he’d write the recap.

Colin Dussault's Acoustic Side Project greeted people near the stadium's entrance.

Colin Dussault’s Acoustic Side Project greeted people near the stadium’s entrance.

Nestled at the corner of 9th and Carnegie, there’s just something about Progressive Field that I really enjoy. I’m a transplant to Cleveland, so my fondness for the stadium doesn’t stem from a home team association. And, as someone who competed in marching band through the Philadelphia and South Jersey region, I’ve been in my fair share of stadiums. But Progressive captures something few others do.

I’ve mulled over what that “something” is, and I currently claim it is “hopeful enthusiasm.” Clevelanders have a solid ability to both recognize “what is” while planning for and looking forward to “what could be.” Something about Progressive Field captures that. Regardless of its corporate origins, the stadium’s current name is very fitting for this city.

What makes everything better is when you have the opportunity to freely drink the official beverages of “hopeful enthusiasm” – wine and beer. The Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field event, which happened a few Fridays ago on June 27th, brings all this together for a great time. And, since it raises funds for Our Lady of the Wayside, we have a perfect storm of good vibes.

Wines, foods, and peoples.

Wines, foods, and peoples.

Arriving at Progressive Field a tad early, Amanda and I could smell the predominantly barbecued food that was waiting to accompany the many spirits that are automatically included with entry.

After getting our etched wineglasses, my first stop was to try the Johnny Appleseed hard apple cider, followed by some flipflop moscato. Then we moved on to grab some of the always-delicious Famous Dave’s wings.

Amanda was Designated Driver that evening, and there was plenty of bottled water and soda (“pop” if you’re not a transplant) for her. There was also salad and veggies, ample seating if you walked in deep enough, and even a putting green.

Famous Dave's not only provided good eats, but a nice take-home surprise.

Famous Dave’s not only provided good eats, but a nice take-home surprise.

If you don’t like wine, the Beer Garden had taken over Progressive’s Budweiser Patio. You don’t need to buy tickets to go in – although you do need an empty glass and then tickets if you want any beer – but the mini hot dogs were delicious and the snow cone machine was a great treat.

There were also some games spread about. If leaving with the little wine glass wasn’t enough, the beer tickets got you a handled mason jar and a Lime-a-Rita sample got you another festive glass. Although I didn’t have any, a trusted source told me the Leinenkugel’s stand had brought a Russian Imperial Stout that was great.

I like my crushed ice plain.

I like my crushed ice plain.

If you didn’t bring extra cash for the beer (like me), no worries. There was still plenty of that free-flowing wine, as well as a few other spirits.

To be honest, my wine preferences are pretty narrow; the wine needs to be white and sweet. I’m not listing a lot of sampled names here not because there wasn’t a large selection, but because there was and my sampling was more copious than my note-taking.

The vendors stretched down an entire side of Progressive Field; there was plenty of wine I didn’t drink, and plenty of wine that I did. But you needed to do something special to stand-out in my memory, and the vendor which delivered that was Cupcake Vineyards:

  • Walk-in wine truck pulled into the stadium? Check.
  • Photo-op? Check.
  • Second photo-op? Check.
  • iPads with all the info and cat videos you could want? Check. (Especially because one of our cats is named Cupcake.)
  • Tiny cupcakes at the ready? Check.
  • Delicious Prosecco? Double check.

When it came to wine, Cupcake Vineyards got my vote for “Win.”

Cupcakes! Cupcakes cupcakes cupcakes! CUPCAKES!

Cupcakes! Cupcakes cupcakes cupcakes! CUPCAKES!

Great venue, great drinks, great food, great company – what more am I to say? Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field was a feel-good event last year, and it was a feel-good event this year, and I eagerly look forward to next’s. Until then, I declared I’d review this as a sonnet, so here it is:

Progressive Field is a really great space,
Open and cool and filled up with big smiles.
If the Indians don’t manage to place,
It’s still a spot where-in I’d walk for miles.

Awesome is Our Lady of the Wayside,
Caring for those who are needing a boost.
Providing shelter, respite, and a ride.
So help by drinking fermented grape juice!

Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field is fun,
Food, spirits, and beer all over – delish!
So buy some tickets, you son of a gun!
“This never should end,” is what you will wish!

So come on down to 9th and Carnegie,
Bring hunger and thirst…but not the baby.

Selfie! Selfie selfie selfie! SELFIE!

Selfie! Selfie selfie selfie! SELFIE!

Disclaimers: 

  • I know Carnegie/baby is a terrible rhyme, but how about YOU come up with a better word that rhymes with Carnegie! 
  • Also, Amanda was offered tickets to attend Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field in exchange for blogging about it. I got her second ticket because I can flap my eyeleshes like a pro. The decision to attend and post about an event is her own, based on whether she thinks it’s something that may also interest others.
  • My decision to blog about the event was not my own, but part of Amanda’s agreeing to be Designated Driver so I could run about downing samples like a thirsty camel at an Oasis Sample Party. It seems batting eyelashes is not as powerful a tool of persuasion as I thought.

Giveaway: A Night of Wine, Food and Chocolate at Locavore

NMSS Ohio Buckeye Chapter's Locavore - September 27

NMSS Ohio Buckeye Chapter’s Locavore – September 27

I think it’s safe to say most (if not all) of us love eating local. There’s something about a meal prepared with fresh, local, high-quality ingredients that just tastes better.

For all of you local culinary lovers who missed last week’s Taste of the Browns giveaway, today’s giveaway features another great food event raising money for an excellent cause.

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Guest Post: Smitten with Tremont's Wine and Design

As you read this, I’m on the road to Virginia to spend the week with my family. While I’m gone, I have a few local bloggers clue-ing into the things they love about Cleveland.

First up is Kimberly, who not just shares my enthusiasm for this city, but is also a wonderful friend (and is usually wearing an outfit I want to steal). Thanks, Kimberly, for taking the time to share a bit about Wine & Design!

With Why CLE and Kimberly at Velvet Tango Room

Hi all! I’m Kimberly from SMITTEN…in cleveland, where I write about everything I’m smitten with, be it food, fashion, beauty or home. While Amanda is taking some time off, I wanted to share one of my most favorite shops in Cleveland with you.

Wine & Design is one of those treasures that unless you happen upon it, you might just miss it. Located on Starkweather in Tremont, it sits right next to St. Theodosis church. Just a few steps away from Lilly’s Chocolates and Lucky’s Cafe. Wine & Design is the perfect urban mix of stylish home furnishings and delightful, affordable wine finds. The concept works well and also serves as home base for owner Greg Morris’ interior design business.

This little boutique draws you right in with their gorgeous renovated storefront and artfully decorated windows. Once inside, you immediately feel welcomed and at home. There is an easy feel about the space and that has a lot to do with Greg’s charm and passion. Wine and accessories line the walls mixed with local art, custom  furniture and whimsical gift ideas. It’s like you’re stepping into a friend’s home. A friend with really great taste.

Stop in on a weekend for a wine tasting. You’ll find quite an impressive collection of wines under the $20 mark and Greg is always quick with a recommendation.

All the wines they carry are handpicked (or should I say tasted) to ensure you go home with the perfect bottle. Also available are a few more expensive wines and champagnes perfect for gifting.

Aside from the delectable wine and modern-yet-spirited housewares is a unique design business. Greg has designed everything from personal homes to public spaces and has even helped out with a few set designs for movies that have been filmed here.

Have a few pieces you love for a room and not sure where to go next? Looking for the perfect sofa or table? He takes on every project, no matter the size, with incredible insight and passion all wrapped up in a laid-back exterior.

Many times I’ll pop in looking for the perfect hostess gift or a bottle of wine for dinner with friends. You will find exactly what you’re looking for and have it wrapped and ready to go.

Keep an eye out for their monthly wine tastings which are larger than the weekend ones and typically feature 4-5 wines and nibbles. One visit and I guarantee you will be smitten too.

treats at a monthly tasting

Making Our Escape to Geneva-on-the-Lake

On a recent visit to Geneva-on-the-Lake, we found The Lodge offered the perfect getaway amidst a region teeming with things to do.

As a kid, my favorite time of year would be when we’d travel down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia during the summer. Mornings would be spent waking up to the sound of the waves outside our windows, followed by days fishing, swimming, and rowing. If I wasn’t in the water, I’d be nearby – biking up and down the beach or digging into a bucket of crab legs.

When Scott and I were considering our move to Cleveland, one of the deciding factors was that it was right off the coast of Lake Erie — because with the lake, comes small lakeside towns and resorts waiting to be explored.

Scott and I packed up the car for just such a getaway when we traveled out to Geneva-on-the-Lake a couple of weekends ago.

One of the most peaceful sunsets I’ve enjoyed in a longtime – looking out on Lake Erie from our hotel balcony.

Called Ohio’s First Summer Resort, Geneva-on-the-Lake is an aptly named, quaint lakeside town in Ashtabula County. Although some establishments are open year-round, Geneva-on-the-Lake is really coming alive right now. As the summer season is about to start, with it comes fishing, boating and swimming during the day, and arcades, amusement rides, restaurants, live music and other various nightlife in the evening.

As Scott and I quickly discovered during our visit, it was the perfect mix of the Chesapeake’s laidback respite with the more high-energy shoretown of Brigantine, New Jersey where Scott spent his summers.

Although we visited Geneva-on-the-Lake at the tail-end of the winter season with many businesses yet to open for summer, we were able to find a lot to do – like a stop by the Old Firehouse Winery (which boasts a dinner theatre, ferris wheel and great views of the lake in addition to wine and food) as well as indulging in our mutual love of arcades at Adventure Zone which we left with a handful of winnings – a set of dominoes and 3 plastic dinosaurs.

Nearby Geneva offers antique shops and corner stores like Rees’, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old pharmacy.

What sets Geneva-on-the-Lake apart from other shore towns, though, is that the surrounding area offers even more to do.

For those looking to take in Ohio countryside, there’s no shortage of rolling hills and beautiful scenery (including over 15 covered bridges).

In nearby Geneva we enjoyed a morning of eclectic antique shops and a visit to Rees’ Corner, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old corner pharmacy. If you visit Geneva, I definitely recommend stopping by for a lime phosphate or a rootbeer float.

With so many wineries, there were a lot of difficult decisions to make when planning our trip.

And then, of course, there are the wineries. With 20 wineries in the area, many make a trip to Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake and the rest of the Ashtabula region just to sample the wine.

Because we wanted to pack as much of the area as possible into 2 days, Scott and I paid a visit to just 6 of the wineries – the aforementioned Old Firehouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake, heavy-hitters like Ferrante and Debonne, and more intimate settings like South River, Laurello, and Spring Hill.

I loved that every winery had something unique to offer – whether it was the wine, the food, the setting or all of the above. While it was difficult to choose, our favorites were Laurello, South River and Debonne.

Even though you’re likely there for the wine, dessert lovers should try the Lemoncello Truffle Sorbet at Laurello Winery.

At Laurello, we savored a lemoncello truffle sorbet – an absolutely delightful dessert that was the perfect complement to their wines. They also offered one of the best tasting deals with 6 wines of our choice, cheese and crackers, and a souvenir wine glass for $10.

Sipping wine on Debonne’s patio provided us a rustic last stop for our tour – where we watched an old plane practice landing and taking off at the adjacent airstrip and also sampled some of their Cellar Rats beer. Scott and I are planning our return trip for hot air balloons and remote controlled planes later in the season.

South River was so peaceful and relaxing, I don’t think Scott ever wanted to leave.

Finally, South River not just had our favorite wines of the trip (I may have brought home more than a few bottles of Riesling and Semillon), but the historic church that the tasting room is located in is a unique, quiet setting for sipping wine. It looks out on a beautiful pavilion and 70 acres of vineyard.

Because you can’t explore everything in one day, you’ll most likely need to look for a place to spend the night. And as we learned when we stayed there, The Lodge at Geneva is the perfect place to rest up.

If I could have taken home one thing from The Lodge, it’d be their beautiful stone fireplace in the lobby

Adjacent to the State Park, The Lodge offers everything this visitor needed and then some:

  • on-site dining and a bar that overlooks the sun setting on the lake
  • indoor and outdoor pools
  • access to park trails and walkways that will either lead you for a stroll along the lake or into town
  • a lobby reminiscent of a mountain lodge featuring a beautiful stone fireplace

For many rooms at The Lodge, the scenic views aren’t limited to just the Ohio artwork hanging on the walls. Many rooms look out on beautiful Lake Erie.

The rooms themselves are styled like a country inn – complementary to the Geneva wine-country. Guests can choose between rooms with views of the lobby or the lake, and large suites, family rooms, and whirlpool king rooms are available in addition to standard-sized rooms.

When we stayed at The Lodge, our room featured a balcony which looked out on the lake. Waking up in the middle of the night to hear the lake and see the lights of the buoys was a nice reminder of growing up in Virginia. Plus, having the sun wake me up instead of an alarm was a much needed break from my normal morning routine.

Although it was a little chilly, The Lodge’s beautiful walking paths were worth bundling up for.

The rooms come with standard amenities as well as free wi-fi.  Additional amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves are available upon request.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, of course! During our downtime from traveling around the region, we spent the rest of our weekend exploring what the hotel offered. From bike rentals to swimming and massage services, there are a lot of activities to help you escape without leaving the comfort of the hotel.  And if you don’t have a designated driver for the wineries, you can reserve a spot on The Lodge’s wine shuttle (be sure to call ahead for this because we learned the hard way that the shuttle fills up fast).

If forest trails are more your thing instead of the lake, The Lodge is also adjacent to Geneva’s State Park.

Depending on the season, there’s fishing, birdwatching, an outdoor playground for children, volleyball nets and horse-shoe courts; winter fun includes snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  Many of these activities are family-friendly as well — during my visit, I was impressed by how child and pet-friendly The Lodge is, while still accommodating conference groups and adults on vacation.

While we were at The Lodge, we enjoyed a dinner at Horizons restaurant, a swim in the indoor pool and walks along the shore – it was hard to choose, but I think the pool was my favorite highlight.  I haven’t been swimming since last summer and their huge indoor pool features gigantic windows that look out on the lake.

I would have gladly spent my entire day in this pool if I had had the time.

Regardless of the amenities, though, a hotel stay can often be easily ruined by subpar service. Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem with The Lodge. No matter whom we spoke with – whether it was our server at dinner, housekeeping or the team at the check-in desk – everyone was proactive in ensuring their guests’ stays were comfortable.  In particular, I was impressed by Jason who helped us when we arrived a bit early for check-in – he was very friendly and made a number of great suggestions on how to spend our time before check-in.

Although Scott and I have been big into long roadtrips this year, we recently started to discover there is a world of daytrips right outside of Cleveland just begging to be explored. And if they’re anything like our trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake, I have the feeling Scott and I will be trading in the 8-hour car rides for much closer locales this summer.

A weekend sipping wine and lounging by the lake makes for a very relaxed Amanda.

Disclosure: After being unavailable to attend a Blogger Weekend last Fall at The Lodge at Geneva, I was invited to stay at The Lodge this Spring. One night’s accommodations and one dinner and breakfast were included; however, I paid for the rest of the trip.

Blog Swap: MissWineOH says, Wines you HAVE to try

Today is the Ohio Blogging Association‘s Cleveland November Blog Swap. As part of it, I’m happy to introduce you to Tammy, Chief Tasting Officer at MissWineOH . On this day, bloggers from around the Northeast Ohio area are guest posting on one another’s blogs as a way to get to know each other in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.

I met Amanda at a Wine and Cupcakes event recently, and we have a shared love of the city of Cleveland and its culinary and wine delights. I’m happy to be swapping blogs with her today and sharing some of my favorite wines.

Many of us head out for social gatherings or parties in restaurants during the holiday season. And many of those events are held in our local restaurants, where some of the best chefs in the country make their homes – and their incredible food. Some of Cleveland’s best restaurants also have some pretty intimidating wine lists. When you are blessed with great food, you can also be cursed with the “what do I pick off this wine list?” dilemma.

Your first avenue of information should always be the sommelier if he or she is available – a good sommelier can recommend the perfect wine to compliment your palate, your food and your budget.  Your second avenue, however, can be this list.

As I’m a huge fan of eating in my neighborhood, these picks are from Tremont restaurants, but these wines (or very similar ones) are widely available.

Lolita

Chef Michael Symon’s bistro is reflective of his love of Cleveland. Funky, locally inspired and always changing. One of my favorite things there is the early and late Happy Hour menu. 

Nessa, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 09 8.50 gl – 34 btl 
This spanish white has abundant peaches and pears and a crisp minerality that will blend seamlessly with the Lolita Happy Hour mussels (only $5!).

Revelry, “The Reveler”, Colombia Valley, 08 (Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cab)
10 gl – 40 btl

Washington State makes some great wines, and I love that this one uses Petite Verdot as the primary grape in the blend. It’s inky in color, and you’ll like the chocolate and coffee flavors on the finish. It’s an INTERESTING wine – in that “wow, pretty cool, I’ll sip and savor this a while” sort of way. And I love putting the Lolita burger with it.

Parallax

While Parallax has a lovely by the glass menu, their strength is in their bottle selections. They specialize in asian fusion and seafood – and they have a sushi menu!

Sauvignon Blanc, St. Supery, Napa Valley 2010 – 40 btl
Grapefruit and lime are the highlights with this wine, but it’s not overly tart like you will find in many New Zealand Sauv Blancs. This one is a perfect complement to the asian fusion and seafood that dominates the menu at Parallax. I love to order this and an assortment of sushi and settle in for a sensory feast.

Pinot Noir, The Four Graces, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 09 – 72 btl
While on the higher end, this pinot noir is one of the best you will find on a restaurant list in Tremont. The subtle fruit and soft tannins on this pinot serve any of the meat dishes well. I particularly love it with the Duck Confit and brussel sprouts.

Dante

Dante is a great place to stop in early or late if you find yourself having trouble getting a dinner reservation. They have a lovely bar, 2 pages of wines by the glass and 50 wines under $50 to pair with Chef Dante Bocuzzi’s incredible menu. Their wines reflect the Italian influence of the food.

Vernaccia, Le Rote, San Gimignano, Toscana, 08 8 gl – 32 btl
A Tuscan Vernaccia at this price in a restaurant in Tremont, I’m all over it. Vernaccia is a grape grown and pressed in a particular town in the Tuscan region of Italy (San Gimignano), and this particular wine is medium bodied and just the right balance of acid and fruit. You’ll want to make sure it is well chilled. Pair it with the octopus, or any of the fresh seafood dishes for a little slice of Tuscany in Cleveland.

Barbera d’Alba, Boffa, Buschet, Piemonte 08 11 gl – 44 btl
A quintessential Italian red, the Boffa is a dry selection made from the barbera grape. This wine has some spice on it, but I’d pair it with the venison or polenta, depending on which direction your culinary tastes lead. This wine also works well for the vegetarian dishes on the menu.

***

One piece of advice I always give: Ask for a taste if you are unfamiliar with the wine. The worst possible thing they can say is “no” – and I’ve never had a sommelier refuse a taste.

Do you have favorite dishes you don’t know what to drink with? Just ask!

Happy Sipping!

MissWineOH's Wine and Cupcakes at Market Ave. Wine Bar

A wine tasting with cupcakes? MissWineOH is onto a good thing!

Have you entered the Cleveland LEGO KidsFest giveaway yet? You only have a few more days — the winner gets 2 free tickets to this awesome LEGO extravaganza at the I-X Center.

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While I’d say I love wine, I would not call myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I felt discouraged at any early attempts to develop a palate when I found out I was allergic to red wine a few years ago. I hadn’t really drank a lot of white wine before then and was all of a sudden told that’s all I could drink.

Since then, I’ve tasted my share of white – I know I like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, and I’ve never enjoyed Chardonnay. But I’m definitely more of a “recreational” wine drinker. I’m not knowledgeable about pairing wine and food, and I’ll admit that I’ve bought a bottle of wine on more than one occasion because I liked its artwork.

So when WhyCLE mentioned a Wine and Cupcakes event, that definitely got my attention as a fun way to educate myself more.

The event was hosted by Tammy Coulson from Miss WineOH (you can find her on Twitter at @TLColson). In September, she went from only offering tasting parties for private groups to hosting unique wine experiences throughout Northeast Ohio.

Wine and Cupcakes was her first public wine tasting event in Cleveland.

Girls night out with old and new friends (photo from WhyCLE)

After a delicious meal at Flying Fig (I stuck to a salad and the buratta cheese plate so that I wouldn’t be too full for cupcakes), WhyCLE, HungryinCLE and I headed next door to Market Ave. Wine Bar for the Wine and Cupcakes tasting.

I love Market Ave. Wine Bar.  It was one of the first places I went to in Ohio City because of a book club I used to be in.  I hadn’t been in a while so it was nice to visit again. 

The tasting was in the back room, which is a fun, comfortable and ecletically decorated space (kind of reminded me of Touch Supper Club’s back room).  After settling into a few of the club chairs and couches, we readied ourselves for wine. 

Before I get into what was served, I need to take a moment to thank both Tammy and Market Ave. Wine Bar for being the most understanding hosts. 

The back room of Market Ave. Wine Bar is where we enjoyed our evening

When you sign up for a wine tasting, you’re tasting wines that have been selected for you by someone else – it’s all about the adventure.   In looking at the menu, I knew there would be a few red wines on the list. 

However, I decided to still go because a) there would also be cupcakes from A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont and b) it was a fun night out with friends. 

Because I didn’t want them to waste a pour of red wine on me, I emailed Tammy ahead of the event to ask if I could have soda or water during the red wine pairings.  Instead, she notified Market Ave. of my allergy and they worked to find an alternate white wine pairing for the cupcakes. 

That’s AMAZING customer service and I am really grateful they went above and beyond — huge thank yous to Tammy, Joy Valentine and everyone at Market Ave. Wine Bar. 

So many cupcakes! (photo from WhyCLE)

Our first pairing was a 2010 Golem Riesling with a lemon cake cupcake topped with a strawberry balsamic vinegar icing. I really liked the Riseling because it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet but had a dryness to it that worked really well with the light flavoring of the cupcake.

This pairing was very well-balanced in regards to the sweetness and acidity of the drink and food — however, I could have very well enjoyed both of them separately.  I would have liked to have tasted more of the balsamic vinegar in the icing but the lemon and strawberry flavors definitely made up for it.

Next up was a 2010 Louis Laurant Vouvray with an almond cake cupcake and roquefort icing.  Almond’s a flavor that not everyone likes, but I do so I really enjoyed this cupcake. The fruitiness of the wine was selected to pair specifically with this almond flavoring.  While I didn’t prefer the wine on its own, I really enjoyed it when mixed with the cupcake. 

For the third pairing, everyone was served a white cake cupcake with maple bacon icing paired with a 2009 Bella Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir. Because of my allergy, Market Ave. substituted a Spann Chardonnay Viognier blend for the pinot noir.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a huge fan of Chardonnay. It was the first white wine I ever tried and the bitter, heavy oakiness always left me dissatisfied.

I say this because out of all of the wines I had at the tasting, this was my favorite. I was told this likely has to do with the Viognier that’s blended in, which contributes a lot to the wine’s aroma and taste (the aroma rivaled that of the pinot noir). There was a substantial body to it that paired really well with the bacon cupcake, which was again my favorite — because, well, it had bacon in it.

I was happy to learn Market Ave. Wine Bar also sells bottles and I enjoyed the wine so much I bought one to take home — as an added bonus it was relatively inexpensive (I paid around $12 for it).

The bacon and salted caramel icing cupcakes were two of my favorites

A cherry chocolate cupcake with salted caramel icing  followed. This cupcake was paired with a 2009 The Velvet Devil Merlot.  My substitute was a Geil Scheurebe Kabinett, a hybrid grape with some Riesling in it. Like the Vouvray there was a fruitiness that complemented the saltiness of the icing.

By the way, salted caramel — I don’t know why I didn’t have much of you before recently, but you’re my new favorite flavoring on desserts.  Regarding the wine, there was some citrusy tastes to it that I’d like to pair with dinner one night – so I might need to go back and pick some up.

We ended with a dark chocolate cake with cinnamon icing paired with a 2005 Norman The Vocation. My substitute was a Midnight Cellars Chardonnay. I did some research on Midnight Cellars and read they use French – instead of American – oak barrels during production. Which explains why that aspect of the flavoring is not as overbearing as the Chardonnays I used to drink. 

Although neither the wine nor the cupcake in this final pairing were my favorites of the evening (I don’t enjoy cinnamon that much), they had A LOT to live up to after the first 4 pairings and were still good in their own right. 

Tammy - our host and wine guide for the evening (photo from WhyCLE)

Along our wine tasting journey, Tammy talked about each wine and why they were paired with their respective cupcake. The best part about the conversation was how gracious and approachable she was, bringing a bit of Southern Hospitality to the Cleve. She made wine tasting very accessible — even for a novice like me.

My favorite part was her encouragement to try a lot of wine so that you can figure out what you like and don’t like, and ultimately choose to drink something because you enjoy it.  As she explained, each person’s palate is different so just because a wine is extremely expensive, touted on tv by a food expert or has a high rating, doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily like it more than a $10 bottle of wine you can pick up at Heinen’s. 

Miss WineOH has a lot of upcoming wine-centric events. The next Cleveland wine and cupcakes will be in January with other events listed on their Events Calendar.  She also hosts events in my home state of Virginia and North Carolina and can do private events and wine hikes as well. More info can be found here.

Since I couldn’t taste the red wines, check out WhyCLE’s recap as well as Miss WineOH’s tasting notes for the event.

Miss WineOH 411: