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Thursday, June 23, 2016

From The Archives: The 5 S’s Of Wine Tasting

Whether it’s a home wine tasting for friends or a tasting at a winery in Napa Valley, there are some rules that can make it more enjoyable.

Always select the wines so that the light, weaker wines come first and the stronger ones follow. Dry wines should precede the sweet ones and typically white before red. Also you should progress according to quality. Don’t start the tasting off with a $75 bottle of Stag’s Leap Chardonnay and then finish with a run of the mill $10 wine.

As you begin to taste the wines, keep the Five S’s in mind: “See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, and Savor.”

See
The first step is to enjoy the wine's color. For white wines, the older the wine the more golden it gleams. It can be a pale yellow all the way to an amber color. Reds can range from a garnet red to a beautiful deep purple. Tip your glass (partially!) and view the color against a white background, such as a napkin or tablecloth, to admire the hue.

Swirl
To release the aroma, gently swirl the wine in your glass. This mixes oxygen into the wine to release the fragrance. To best swirl wine, place the glass on the table and hold the stem of the glass. With the glass remaining on the table, quickly move it in small circles.

Smell
Much of wine's pleasure is in the aroma, which comes from the grapes, and reflects the wine making process. After swirling, immediately place your nose close to the opening of the glass. Gently sniff the wine making note of your first impressions. Depending on the type of wine, you may discover hints of familiar smells such as fruit, spice, floral or even toasted (such as nuts, coffee or cocoa). Higher quality wines will express more aromas than inexpe3nsive, poorly made wines.

Sip
Take a medium-sized sip small sip, roll it around in your mouth for about three to five seconds. Breathe in a little air to once again release the aroma as you are tasting. Notice the taste and the "texture" - how it feels in your mouth, from light and refreshing to full and robust. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to experience a wine’s flavor.

Spit or...
Swallow. The former may sound impolite, but it's not. In fact, it's the only way to taste if you are sampling many wines, and it can be done very discreetly. At many tasting counters, you'll notice a large bucket for that purpose as well as for any leftover wine in your glass. You can reset your palate by eating a piece of bread or cracker. If you aren't driving or consuming many wines, you may prefer to swallow the small samples. Just don't overdo it.

Savor
Most wines have a lingering aftertaste or "finish" even after you have completed the actual tasting. Take some time to appreciate the unique flavor of the wine.
You may want to write tasting notes, which at first might be very simple: deep red in color, fruity. With experience, your notes will become more descriptive.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: June 22-25, 2016


Albarino grapesWednesday, June 22
The Andersons, Sylvania, No wine tastings this month.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-9 PM Wine tasting.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.

Thursday, June 23

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. More Wines with Tricia from Vintner’s Select: 1. 2014 Domaine Andre’ Neveu – Le Manoir – Sancerre – Chavignol-Sancerre-France, 2. 2015 Domaine Pierre Guindon – Coteaux D’Ancenis– Rose’– Loire Valley-France, 3. 2015 Domaine Andre Neveu – Sancerre – Rose– Chavignol-Sancerre-France, 4.2012 Chateau La Bernede Grand Poujeaux – Red Bordeaux – Moulis en Medoc, France. Nominal fee per sample or $8 per flight.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. Chillin' & Grillin' with French Wines: 1. Couly-Dutheil Chinon Rose, 2. Domaine DelSol Picpoul de Pinet, 3. Domaine des Quatre Routes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, 4. Domaine Chantemerle Fourchaume Chablis Premier Cru, 5. Black Beret Grenache Syrah, 6. Chateau Nozieres Cahors, 7. Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf du Pape, 8. Chateau Blaignan Medoc. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
 

Friday, June 24
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Eclectic International Lineup. Laura Swafford from Private Reserve is showcasing wines from around the world that are sure to please.Nominal fee per sample.
 
Saturday, June 25
Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris or Grauburguder is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis Vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of Pinot Noir, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 4:30 – 6 PM. Wine education class: Wines of the Pacific Northwest. Limited seating. $25 per person. Call for information.

AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Bonny Doon 2013 Vin Gris Tuilé, Central Coast

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Looking for an offbeat wine? We think we have just the thing for you.

A New One On Me

During a recent cookout, I opened up a chilled bottle of Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris Tuilé. I didn’t know quite what to expect – I thought a rosé. Friend Austin Beeman had hinted that this was a truly special wine, but what poured from the brown bottle was unlike anything I’d seen before.

Most rosé are in the salmon to light orange color range. The Vin Gris Tuilé was a lurid amber-orange. The wine is unfiltered, so it also had a mysterious cloudy look.

Score One For The Bad Boy

Randall Grahm is a wine maverick, who was an early advocate of Rhone varieties in California. In fact, the Rhoneranger asteroid discovered by the Lowell Observatory in Arizona was so named in his honor. His current project is the Popelouchum Vineyard, where he intends to breed 10,000 new grape varieties and blend them together to create a New World Grand Cru.

He can’t resist coloring outside the lines. The Vin Gris Tuilé is a “brick” wine, earning that title by its color. It is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Roussane, Cinsault, Carignane and Grenache Blanc. The wine is solarized, by sitting outside in the sun in a glass demijohn for nine months.

The result is a wine with a nutty, unique flavor – unlike almost any still wine you’ve ever tasted. The sun has certainly changed it (through oxidation) and there is a distinct earthiness too. Even more odd is the striking flavor of… curry. Yes, that’s right. During our cookout, we were eating barbecue chicken. I enjoyed the wine, which should be chilled – but the rest of the group was somewhat puzzled by it.

I think this would make a great pairing with Indian food. The folks at Bonny Doon also suggest Mediterranean cuisine.

For a mere $26 SRP, here is your opportunity to walk on the wild side with one of the most off-the-wall wines you’ll ever taste.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Perry Creek 2014 “Zinman” Zinfandel

20160521_170248Value, flavor and a truly American experience can be found with Zinfandel. This bottle from the El Dorado AVA checks all the boxes.

High Altitude Attitude

The Perry Creek Winery is located in the Sierra foothills east of Lake Tahoe. High in the El Dorado wine region of California, their vineyards are cooled by the elevation rather than ocean breezes.

Grapes for their well-known Zinman Zinfandel come from their Fairplay Vineyard, located at 2,400 feet as well as other El Dorado vineyards. The wine benefits from the unique geography, decomposed granite soil as well as the cool nights and warm days.

Zinfandel Zensation

Zinfandel is a mostly California wine that can be had in a variety of styles from jammy and fruit forward to more complex and refined. It also comes in a wide range of price points – from the $10 range to beyond $50 for certain Old Vines bottles. There is sure to be a Zinfandel to suit your taste.

We popped this bottle courtesy of our new friend Jack. We were attending a conference and stepped away from the hospitality room to sample a few bottles he brought with him from California.

The Zinman claim to fame is that it delivers reserve quality at a value price. Upon sipping, we agree. The wine flows with raspberry and pepper flavors. There is a brambly flavor we attribute to its high altitude locale. It provides a complexity we dig.

There are two other reasons to like Zinman: the $14 SRP and its origin in the El Dorado AVA. El Dorado is off the radar with most wine lovers, but they produce some standout wines including Zin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. It’s a region worth exploring with your wine glass.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Heritage Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County

Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zin

Zinfandel is considered to be the most American of grapes. It can produce lip-smacking quality at wallet-pleasing prices.

Pre-Prohibition Vines Ride Again

Field grafting plays an important role in wine. Vineyard managers don’t just sprinkle grape seeds in the soil and hope they grow. They often graft cuttings onto existing rootstock to speed the growth process or to help ensure the health of the vines.

In 1982 Dry Creek Vineyard’s Don Wallace experimented by grafting pre-Prohibition budwood from century-old Zinfandel vines onto new rootstock. In this way the heritage of the old vines was preserved.

We Declare The Experiment A Success

Working to propagate vanishing grape varieties and saving old vine vineyards is only starting to get the attention it deserves. Embedded in these grapes and vines is the history and character of the land.

Aside from the sustainability and ecological aspect, we love gnarly old vines because they produce fewer berries filled with concentrated goodness. Dry Creek Vineyard has produced a wine that captures some elements of old vine Zin in a newer, robust vine.

The 2014 Heritage Vines is 78% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, 1% Primitivo and 1% Carignane. The vines are all more than 20 years old and the wine is aged for 13 months in French, American and Hungarian oak.

Flavor And Value Grafted Together

While the claim to fame for Heritage Vines Zin from Dry Creek Vineyard is grafting historic vine cuttings onto new rootstock, there is another accomplishment. The winery has also combined great wine with exceptional value.

At only $22 SRP, this is a “go-to” Zin for all occasions. It is a smooth wine with dark flavors of cherry and cranberry. This spiciness is what gives this Zin its zip. The 2014 vintage continues the heritage of quality at an excellent price.

Full Disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: June 8-11, 2016


Wednesday, June 8
Priorat VistaThe Andersons, Sylvania, No wine tastings this month.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. No tasting this week.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.

Thursday, June 9

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Great Late Spring Wines. 1. 2014 Antonutti – Ribolla Gialla – Italy, 2. 2015 Rousseau Freres – Touraine Noble Joue Rosé – Loire, France, 3. 2015 Jean Reverdy – Les Villots Sancerre Rosé – Sancerre, France, 4. 2014 Prodigo – Nero D’ Avola – Sicily. Nominal fee per sample or $6 per flight.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. The Tasting Theme for June is Chillin' & Grillin'.This week featuring Wine by Joe (Joe Hobbs)1. Oregon Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. Other Wines for Tasting: 1. La Fiera Primitivo, 2. Fattoria di Basciano I Pini Toscana, 3. Niner Twisted Spur, 4. Whitehall Lane Tre Leoni. Nominal fee per sample.
 
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TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
 

Friday, June 10
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Craft Beer and Wine. Jeff Stroud from Natural States will be bringing the best craft beer and wine selections for any summer celebration or occasion. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Saturday, June 11
Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Summer Whites. Refreshing white wines for the warmer weather ahead. Wines that are crisp and lively with a clean dry finish. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 4:30 – 6 PM. Wine education class: Selecting and pairing wines for summer events. Limited seating. $25 per person. Call for information.

AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LaBri 2012 Syrah, Franschhoek, and Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt

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For some wine lovers it is the ultimate pairing: rich red wine and dark chocolate. Here’s the results of our latest match.

Two Continents Unite

For our chocolate and wine tasting, I selected a wine we purchased on our trip to South Africa. LaBri is a winery with roots back to the Huguenot setters of 1694. The French Huguenots brought their love of wine to Franschhoek and the area has become the food and wine capitol of Africa.

Endangered Specials Chocolate is the first American-made chocolate using fully traceable Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa. Fairtrade products help farmers make a real living and invest in a viable future. The chocolate is certified non-GMO and is gluten-free.

Treasure Wine Delivers

My wife, the Green Dragon, likes to call our prized wines “treasure wines.” In this case, the LaBri Syrah traveled about 8,000 miles in our suitcase from South Africa back to Ohio. We had one of our best experiences of our South Africa trip at the LaBri winery and it included a chocolate and wine pairing as well as a biltong and wine pairing. Biltong is a bit like beef jerky, but made with antelope and exotic animals.

Chocolate and Syrah - Smashing!The Syrah is blended with a small amount of Viognier, a white grape, in the style of Rhone wines. Syrah can have an earthy style and the Viognier softens it. The LaBri has flavor notes of violets, herbs and blackberry.The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, which gives it a nice smooth body.

The Eagle Bar

We knew the Endangered Species Chocolate bar would be great even without unwrapping it. The makers donate 10% of net profits go to GiveBack Partners (including the Rainforest Trust, Wildlife Conservation Network, and African Wildlife Foundation) and each partner gets a minimum of $10,000 annually. Endangered Species has contributed more than $1.2 million over the last three years. That is good taste!

The Eagle Bar stands on its merit quite well, too. It is 60% cacao, which is a nice percentage. I’ve found chocolate with a higher percentage can be more bitter. Milk chocolate, however, doesn’t pair well with full-bodied wines.

Caramel and sea salt is a winning combination. Paired with the dark chocolate, each bite is an explosion of taste with smooth chocolate and caramel with the contrasting flavor and texture of the salt.

Paired with the wine, this is a serene combination. The chocolate notes and the fruit and herbs of the Syrah blend into a happy harmony. We enjoyed this on the Memorial Day weekend, and so the American Eagle on the label was appropriate too.

Endangered Species Chocolate is available in local stores or online. Pair with a robust red and you’ll have an evening of enjoyment while saving some noble animals.

Full Disclosure: We received the chocolate as a marketing sample.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Chais Saint-Laurent 2013 La Vigne en Véron Chinon

French Cab Franc from Chinon

Cabernet Franc is well suited to cool climate regions, such as New York State and Ontario, but the “mother ship” for this red grape is Chinon.

A Loire Valley Red

Chinon is one of the few villages in France’s Loire Valley that focuses on red wines. The wine region is centered near Touraine and some believe that it offers the best wines in the Loire Valley.

We are big fans of Cabernet Franc, and so I was pleased to learn that Chinon would be a “wine of the week” for my Certified Specialist of Wine class. The course is a self-directed study that leads to a rather intense certification test. I’ve been participating in a 12-week online class that reviews the material we are supposed to master in the textbook. The class is entertaining and educational – even more so because we are drinking wine during it.

Who’s Your Daddy?

When you mention Cabernet, most wine lovers assume you are talking about Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is actually the “parent” of Cab Sauvignon, which is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s roots are in Chinon and it is one of the approved grapes for Bordeaux wines.

Over the years we have sampled a lot of Cab Franc and especially love its peppery finish. It’s weather-heartiness and early ripening makes it ideal for cool climate wine regions like Ohio, Michigan or New York State.

Chais Saint-Laurent ChinonCin-Cin Chinon

This Chinon comes from the villages of Rivière, Beaumont-en-Véron and Savigny-en-Véron. The soils there produce wines that are a bit more approachable with soft tannins and nice fruit.

In the glass the Chais Saint-Laurent is ruby in color. Swirling produces “legs” on the glass. In the glass there are aromas of raspberry and earth.

This is a smooth and soft wine – no harsh tannins here! There are delectable flavors of black cherry, cocoa and raspberry. Some Cab Franc has green pepper notes. Green Dragon is not a fan of green pepper and, indeed, if there is too much taste of green pepper it can be a wine fault indicating use of unripened grapes. The Chais Saint-Laurent has a touch of spice, but nary a green pepper.

The French Chinon is lighter in body than many US Cab Francs I’ve sampled. This makes it a great food wine for pork and veal dishes or even a hearty-style grilled chicken. It is also a good pick while dining out.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mercer 2013 Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2013, Horse Heaven Hills

Washington State is known for their rich, bold reds. Here we dip into a Merlot-based blend.

Sharp Sisters Chillin'

Shouldn't We Be Drinking Rosé?

Anyone in Northwest Ohio knows this has been a weird spring. It was damp and cool for the longest time – and now it has plunged full-tilt into summerlike temperatures.

Over the holiday weekend we visited with our good friends and Tasting Team members Cabinator and Glorious T. We enjoyed some shrimp and kabobs and grilled snap peas. We sat on the deck overlooking the pond and it was hot and a bit humid. In short, perfect weather for a crisp, chilled rosé.

However, there is never a bad time for a great wine from Washington State. We decided to be unconventional and put a slight chill on this Mercer Sharp Sisters blend. We were ready for refreshment.

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Horse Heaven Hills – An AVA to Remember

There are hundreds of American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in the US. Each is defined by a unique soil, terrain or other characteristic. Washington State is a wellspring of fantastic wine and some of the most interesting come from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

Horse Heaven Hills is one of the warmest regions in Washington and produces wines that are balanced with powerful elegance. The vineyards of Mercer are located along the Columbia River which moderates temperature extremes and allows for a longer ripening period.

Merlot Has A Leading Role

Mercer Blend Leads With MerlotThere certainly is an art to calibrating the proper wine blend. I recall tasting a white blend that had 10 grape varieties. Before sipping, I imagined how incredible it would taste. Unfortunately, with so many cameo appearances by different grapes there was no focus to the wine.

Not so with Sharp Sisters! The blend is 47% Merlot, 41% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Sangiovese and 1% Petit Verdot. Washington State Merlot is special indeed and this Merlot from the Princeton Vineyard is supple with notes of blackberry. Although the Syrah is a lesser percentage, our quartet felt the power of this brambly, earthy grape.

Sharp Sisters undergoes malolactic fermentation, which converts malic acid into lactic acid and results in a smooth body. Sharp Sisters is aged 20 months in a combination of French and America oak prior to blending.

Upon first sip, the tannins seemed strong, but as the bottle progressed and with some nice steak kabobs, the wine hit is stride and became Smooth Sisters. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest you try this as a summer wine. It is fruit forward and is suitable for patio sipping or a more formal get-together.

The insider tip is to give it a slight chill if your going to be in the hot sun. Put it in the refrigerator for 12 minutes before opening or put it on some ice outside. This is a wine readily available at Toledo area stores at $19.99.

Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Toledo Area Wine Events & Tastings: June 1-4, 2016


Wednesday, June 1
FirepitThe Andersons, Sylvania, 6-8 PM. Jim’s European Adventure 2016: Part I: 1. Pink Pegau Rose 2015 (France), 2. Domeniile Panciu  Feteasca Neagra 2012 (Romania), 3. Casa Panciu Babeasca Neagra 2013 (Romania), 4. EntreSuelos Tempranillo 2013 (Spain), 5. Dave Phinney Locations WA No.4 (Washington State). Nominal fee per sample or $8 per flight.
 
Corks Wine and Liquor, Promenade Plaza, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford – (419) 872-6800. 6-8 PM. Fun wine tasting with Matt from Esber featuring La Catrina winery. Nominal cost per sample or $10 for flight.
 
Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463. 5:30 –7:30 PM. Wine Tasting. $15 per person.

Thursday, June 2

Andersons, Maumee, 5-7 PM. Washington State Wines with Tricia Rasar from Vintner’s Select. 1. 2014 Ryan Patrick – Naked (unoaked) Chardonnay – Mattawa, 2. 2015 Revelry – Rosé – Walla Walla, 3. 2013 Revelry – Merlot – Walla Walla, 4. 2013 Pirouette – Red Blend – Walla Walla. Nominal fee per sample or $9.50 per flight.

Let us promote your wine tasting for free! Send info to twav@att.net
Andersons, Talmadge Road, Wine Tasting. 6 – 8 PM. The Tasting Theme for June is Grillin' & Chillin' - Refreshing wines, red or white that go well with any food you will grill: 1. Windsor Oaks Pinot Gris, 2. La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano, 3. Huia Sauvignon Blanc, 4. Kung Fu Girl Riesling, 5. Wrangler Red, 6. Domaine la Bouissiere Vacqueyras, 7. Yalumba The Scribbler, 8. Edmunds St. John Syrah . Nominal fee per sample.
 
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TREO Wine Bar, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, (419) 882-2266. Wine & Cheese Thursday. Explore the wonderful world of wine and cheese. Try four different wines with a sample platter of the day’s cheese.
 
Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 5-8 PM. Special wine tasting featuring Don Melchor wines. Call for information. 

Friday, June 3
 
Walt Churchill's Market, 26625 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, (419) 872-6900. 4-7 PM. Boutique Wine Lineup. Wine Trends Representative Diana Kerr-Brown will have a chic selection of summer favorites. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Saturday, June 4
Kroger Maumee – Wine Tasting, 3-7 PM. Nominal fee per sample.
 
Walt Churchill’s Market, 3320 Briarfield. Maumee, (419) 794-4000. 2-6 PM. Summer Reds. Let the grilling season begin with a selection of summer reds that will compliment your friendly barbecue.Nominal fee per sample.

AREA WINE BARS
  • Veritas Cork and Craft, 505 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo – (419) 214- 9463.
  • Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.

Up & Coming

Tuesday, June 7. Zinful, (419) 931-9946, 218 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg. 4-6:30 PM. Julio Tavignano, owner and winemaker of Tenuta di Tavignano along with Ross Bouchard from Marc de Grazia Selections & Vintner Select present the Tavignano wines.

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