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Special Dinners Celebrate Whiskey, Chocolate and Wine


Three special dinners in the area are putting the spotlight on whiskey, chocolate and wine, respectively.

Myron’s is hosting a whiskey dinner.

Myron’s Prime Steakhouse,  10003 N.W. Military Hwy., is hosting a whiskey tasting dinner at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 with  Adam Harris, distillery specialist for Beam Global Spirits as the guest speaker.

The Whiskeys of the World Dinner menu begins with  Canadian Club Manhattan, followed by Maple Glazed Cedar Planked Salmon over Butternut Squash Puree with Haricot Verts and a Blood Orange Reduction served with Kentucky’s Maker’s Mark 46. Irish Lamb Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and Cabbage over traditional soda bread is presented with Kilbeggan of Westmeath, Ireland. Jerked Pork Chops over Coconut and Mango Rice with Sautéed Brussels Sprout Leaves is partnered with Knob Creek Rye of Kentucky. Finally, Cold Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Butter over Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and White Asparagus is served with Laphroaig from the Isle of Islay, Scotland.

The cost of dinner is $74.95 plus tax and tip. For reservations, call (210) 493-3031.

Little Gretel is going chocolate crazy.

Little Gretel, 518 River Road, Boerne, is having a chocolate dinner as part of the second annual Dine & Wine BoerneFest. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

The menu, presented with the Chocolate & Wine Festival of Texas, includes Coquilles St. Jacques with a Chocolate and Cranberry Sauce, Chocolate Soup a la Goethe’s Mum, Arugula-Strawberry Salad with Chocolate-Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pepper-crusted Beef Tenderloin or Chicken Breast with Chocolate-Port Sauce and Black Forest Kirsch Cake.

The price is $69 a person plus tax and tip. Call (830) 331-1368 for reservations.

Oro is pairing wine with a special dinner.

Oro at the Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St., is hosting a Halloween party and Deutsch Family Estate portfolio wine dinner with guest speaker Brian Windham. It begins at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

Diners are encouraged to dress in costume for the dinner with the winner of the best costume winning a complimentary dinner and a room for a night.

Chef Chris Cook’s menu begins with Ghostly Smoked Chicken Wonton with Girard Chardonnay 2000. Beaten and Blackened Hawaiian Opah with Sweet Potato and Pear Hash will be paired with The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2011, followed by Horrific Canadian Lobster Mac and Cheese with Swiss Chard and Cranberries paired with Baron Fini Pinot Grigio 2011. Spooky Citrus Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin and Ramon Bilbao Albariño Rias Biaxes 2010 preceded To Die For Anise Scented Braised Short Rib with Girard Petite Sirah 2009. Dessert will be the chef’s devilish choice.

The price is $69.95 a person plus tax and tip. Call (210) 225-5100 for reservations.

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Wines That Please — In Any Season!


By Jeremy Parzen

Wine makes a great gift for Dad.

Five years ago, it would have been unimaginable to give dad wine for father’s day. Back then, in the age before the millennial generation decided that it would make wine its favorite luxury beverage, we still bought our fathers ties, golf clubs, and Weber grills and smokers to celebrate their “special day.”

But fast forward to the summer of 2012 and many of those dads are millennials themselves. And even those who still belong to generation X have come to understand the vital importance of wine in society today.

If you’re planning to give Dad a groovy bottle this year, look beyond the predictable Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that the baby boomers still drink. After all, who wants to drink tannic, highly alcoholic, concentrated, chunky and immature Napa Valley Cab in the Texas summer, with temperatures already hitting 100 degrees and beyond.

Here are some interesting, food-friendly wines currently available in our market, at prices that sit nicely within a gift-giving budget — even if you’ve got two dads!

Vincent Girardin 2009 Sauvigny-les-Beaune

This bottle is what New Yorker’s call “outer borough” Burgundy, a great introduction to Pinot Noir from its most famous appellation (Gabriel’s Superstore, $27.99).

Mongeard Mugneret 2009 Fixin

Fixin is one of Burgundy’s “best kept secrets,” a village located adjacent to the more famous Gevrey-Chambertin (Gabriel’s Superstore, $28.99).

Castelgiocondo 2005 Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello is Italian for “perfect gift for dad.” We’re not sure how Gabriel’s managed offer to this obscenely low price for a modern-style Brunello (and wine pundit favorite), but we’re not asking any questions (not on the floor; ask a salesperson; Gabriel’s Superstore, $25).

Château Pradeaux 2007 Bandol Rosé

Rosé isn’t exactly what comes to mind when you think Dad but this year think “pink”: this classic producer delivers muscular, austere expressions of rosé from Mourvèdre from Southern France (Saglimbeni, $37.99; everything 20 percent off Friday and Saturday).

Fontanafredda 2008 Briccotondo Barbera

The Italians like to chill their Barbera in summertime and this wine, with vibrant acidity and wild berry fruit flavors, is ideal for summer grills (Saglimbeni, $17.99; everything 20 percent off Friday and Saturday).

Jeremy Parzen, author of the blog DoBianchi.com, believes that “food and wine are exegetic tools that help to attain a more profound understanding of the human condition and experience.” He resides in Austin with his wife, Tracie, and their 5-month-old daughter, Georgia.

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Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, Will Have Its Grand Opening This Week


Veronique Cecilia Barretto at Wine, A Fine Wine Shop.

Ceci Barretto and Melissa Unsell, the wine bloggers of Vinously Speaking, are opening Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, at 7271 Wurzbach Road, Suite 117, with a grand opening this weekend.

The Medical Center wine shop is located where Rio de Vino once was.

“This is an exciting endeavor for us as we strive to ignite the urban wine culture in our great city,” says Unsell.

Their philosophy is to make wine an un-intimidating, fun libation. And so their store has something for all wine lovers and all tastes.

“Our focus is to offer our clients selections from boutique lots of wine that most times are not offered at other high-volume retail locations,” says Barretto.

The owners will mark the store’s opening with a three-day celebration from 2 to 8 p.m. May 10-12. Wine samples will be offered, live music is planned and a food truck could pull up. All guests will receive 30 percent off their wine purchases.

After the opening, the owners plan to offer wine education events for all levels of wine lovers, from novices on up. Tastings will be every Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Barretto has her masters in Wine Business from the Burgundy School of Business and her WSET Level 3 – Advanced Certificate for sommeliers. By day, Unsell is a marketing director for a local litigation technology firm; she has been a wine blogger for over a year and is studying to obtain the WSET Level II certification.

Wine, A Fine Wine Shop, will be open Tuesday-Thursday, 3 – 7 p.m.; Friday, 3 – 8 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 8 p.m.

Call (210) 240-5866.Email: vinouslyspeaking@gmail.com. Web: www.vinouslyspeaking.com.

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It’s Fine Time for Fine Wine at Il Sogno


Study Italian wines at Il Sogno.

Il Sogno at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., is raising a toast to wine.

Andrew Weissman’s Italian restaurant is now selling selections from its wine list on a retail basis, so if you find a new favorite at dinner, you can take a bottle or a case home with you.

Looking for more information on Italian wine?

Il Sogno’s sommelier, Gabriel Howe, is also getting ready to teach an introduction to Italian wine class, set for March 20. This is the first of a series of classes that the restaurant is offering. Howe is a certified sommelier who has studied Italy’s wine-growing regions and vintners. The cost is $30 per person and includes both wine and food pairings. For reservations and time, call 210-223-3900.

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Thanksgiving Wines to Be Thankful For


If you are serving red wine, think of something light-bodied and bright.

Ask five different wine people what they will be pouring for thanksgiving dinner and you’ll likely get five different answers. Why is that? Because the foods on the table are so broad in flavors that they lend themselves to a remarkable number of wines. So, serve Champagne and let the bubbles cut through the heaviness of the gravy and dressing. Or pour an off-dry Riesling and let its touch of sweetness complement the relish, the sweet potatoes and the turkey. Pinot Noir is a favorite with many because of its versatility with food.

Better still, have several choices, from dry to sweet, to appeal to all tastes at the table.

About the only answer you’ll get an agreement on is that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is not for your heavier wines. So, leave the oaked Chardonnays and California Cabernets in the wine rack. Think brightly acidic wines or low-tannin treats, and you’ll do just fine.

Here are a few choices from five local people involved in the wine business.

Sarah Verheyen of Glazer’s of Texas:

“We are going to the big family set-up where I bring Beringer White Zinfandel because that is what my in-laws like. I don’t even bring any food — that is what they want!

“Beforehand, I am going to make a stuffed chicken with wild mushrooms and sage dressing for the four of us, so I will probably pair that with some Pinot Noir of some sort. Pinot Noir was the turning point, which I am sure it is with a lot of wine folk; (it made) me fall in love with wine, food and wine pairing and literally, (and) that led to meeting my husband, having my awesome step children, and now my son. Can’t be more thankful for anything in a glass than Pinot Noir!”

Kellis Chandler of Republic National Distributing Company:

“My mother and I are adopted by the Walthal family (a retired Trinity prof) for Thanksgiving. I’m the wine guy, so it’s an opportunity to pull that great Pinot Noir I have been wanting to share with special people. I usually bring a well-made, crisp Chablis-like (if not Chablis) to start things off.

Put away the oaky Chardonnays in favor of something crisp and light.

“It’s funny, these folks are not wine geeks, so we very rarely talk about the wine. They just look at me and nod with a smile on their faces, and comment on how nice the wine is.”

Don Pullum, winemaker for Sandstone Cellars and winemaking consultant for Torre di Pietra Winery:

“I’m going Moroccan for Thanksgiving.  Appetizers include Fried Eggplant Jam, Sweet Tomato Jam, Marinated Olives and Spicy Gulf Shrimp. The wine? Torre Di Pietra 2009 Blanc Du Bois Reserve: It’s a full-bodied, complex white with about 0.5 percent residual sugar that is very versatile in pairing with food. It’ll handle the the complex spices, sweetness, and peppers in the various appetizers. This wine is the first time I’ve worked with Blanc Du Bois, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity. I’ve a new respect for this varietal.

“The entrée: Tagine Turkey Meatballs with Herbs and Lemon. Sides include Baked Root Vegetables with Prunes Spiced Lentils with Pumpkin Couscous. And the wines: Sandstone Cellars 2009 IX, a blend of 75 percent Tempranillo and 25 percent Touriga as well as the 2006 Bodega Muga Reserva Rioja. I’m thankful for having Mason County growers growing interesting Iberian varietals that produce wines which favorably compare to many wines produced in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and southern France.

“Dessert is  Semolina Pancakes with Figs, Almonds, Butter and Warm Honey. The wine is Haak 2007 Blanc Du Bois Madeira. I’m thankful to Raymond Haak for going through all the trouble to make this wine.

“And assorted cheeses with the Sandstone Cellars 2006 IV (a port-style wine). Thanks to Paul and Nancy Buist for growing Touriga at their Robert Clay vineyard.”

Nichole Bendele, public relations and tasting room coordinator for Becker Vineyards:

Rosé complements many of the Thanksgiving dishes.

“Our dry rosé, the Becker Vineyards Provençal (made from Mourvèdre) and a dry Robert Weil Riesling (Erstes Gewachs) are what I’ll be bringing to my brother’s house for a traditional Thanksgiving meal!  Yum!  I haven’t decided on what red I’ll bring – maybe a Seghesio Vineyards Zinfandel.

“The Provençal (and hopefully our Alsatian-style Gewurztraminer will be bottled by then) and some of the lighter-bodied reds like the Prairie Rotie (Rhone-style blend) and Reserve Grenache are some people also enjoy with the Turkey and trimmings.  These reds aren’t too heavy with tannins and won’t overpower the food.”

Philippe Placé, co-owner, Coco Chocolate Lounge & Bistro, 18402 U.S. 281, Suite 114:

“I am actually hosting the Thanksgiving meal this year. My wife Kim’s family will be here, so we will have about 15 people.

“We will start  with a cold fresh salmon and asparagus terrine paired with an Auxey Duresses 2007. It’s one of the underdogs of Burgundy, and I absolutely love it. It is a little leaner and racier than a Meursault with a deep gold color and hints of hazelnut.

“The turkey will be rubbed with sage and spices about three days before being cooked, and the rub will be reapplied every day. I will have some haricot verts sautéed with almond, plus black-eye peas prepared by the 94-year-old grandmother of Kim. Sweet potato fries. Garlic mashed potatoes two colors. Parsnip tournés with a citrus zest. The stuffing will be made of French brioche, apples, chestnuts, onion, leeks, parsley, fresh grapes and chicken stock.

“The wine served with that will be a Morgon ‘Les Charmes’ 2006. I love it that wine that my parents would always serve for special occasions will be served at my home. From the Beaujolais appellation, the Morgon has a beautiful rich purple color with hints of plums and cherries. It’s full bodied wine with a lot of character.

“For dessert, there will be apple tart tatin by me and pumpkin pie made by Kim. I will be serving the dessert with the Becker Vineyards Muscat Canelli Amabile. We finish with a Texas wine that I happen to love! I love the hints of nutmeg and cinnamon and that tender sweetness.

“I have much to be very thankful for this year. I had the chance to visit my family in July. My dad’s health is degrading rapidly, and I was able to talk to him and spend some amazing time with him and my French family. I am very thankful for my wife that keeps me going every day and never doubts my ability to be a good dad, good husband and a good restaurateur. I am thankful for my two outstanding sons that I love immensely. I am very thankful for having a successful business that allows me to take care of my employees, partners and my family.”

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MAX’s Wine Dive Opens in San Antonio


MAX’s Wine Dive is opening its first San Antonio location today at the Quarry Village, 340 E. Basse Road, Suite 101.

The restaurant and wine bar operates under the motto “Fried chicken and Champagne? … Why the hell not?” And it strives to achieve that playfulness in its entire menu, which offers such serious fun as Gator Beignets, made with alligator tail; Nacho Mama’s Oysters, fried Gulf oysters on fried wontons; the Fried Egg Sandwich drizzled with truffle oil; and Texas Prairie Fire Chili made with bison, venison and seven chiles.

There’s also something called Texas Poutine made with fried jalapeño grits, bacon gravy and cheese curds.

And, yes, there is the jalapeño- and buttermilk-marinated fried chicken.

The wines are available for drinking in or taking home, says Henry Timberlake. The wines are priced by the bottle, but if you want two glasses of any wine on the list, the staff will open it for you, he says.

The staff at MAX's are ready to serve.

There is a private room at the back of the restaurant that can be reserved for wine tastings and parties. Seating will vary on whether you are hosting a stand-up or sit-down event.

MAX’s also has locations in Houston and Austin.

MAX’s is open 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Wednesday and 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. It is also open for brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For a look at the menu and wine list, click here.

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Get More Pork on Your Fork at Copa


Copa Wine Bar & Tasting Room, 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, wants you to get your vitamin P. Pork, that is.

So, it’s having a bacon dinner that covers all four courses, including dessert. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 30.

Swine & Dine, as the dinner has been dubbed, includes the following menu:

  • Arugula Salad with crisp, peppery arugula, grapefruit, red onion and crispy pancetta tossed in a warm bacon and balsamic dressing
  • Wild Mushroom & Jalapeño Bacon Empanadas
  • Polynesian-style Slow-roasted Pork Belly with flavors of pineapple, chiles and spices
  • Pig-out Bars to close out the evening.

The cost of the dinner is $40 a person and includes matching wines.

For more information, call 210-495-2672 or click here.

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Wine Wednesdays at Fogo de Chão


Wine lovers can expect a pleasant surprise on Wednesdays at Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St.

Through Sept. 29, patrons will receive a free bottle of wine with the purchase of two adult lunches or dinners. The choice is between two Chilean favorites from Casa Lapostolle: the Cuvée Alexandre Merlot or the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines regularly sell at the restaurant for $60 or more.

Reservations are required. If you make them online at fogo.com, then mention “Wine 2010″ in the comments box. If you prefer to make your reservations over the phone, call 210-227-1700 and mention the promotion at that time.

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Weekend Calendar: Folklife, Wine Dinners, Classes and More


“Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!”
~Tommy Smothers

Spectacular dinners, creative cooking classes, and snacking on more than 40 cuisines can be penciled into your weekend calendar.

A Night Inspired by the Passion of Chef José Andrés
Thursday, June 10, 6:30 p.m., $65 plus tax and 18% gratuity
Bin 555
555 W. Bitters Road (Artisans Alley)
The first course is Bagels and Lox, a crispy bagel cone with salmon roe, mascarpone and chives. The next course is Guacamole with Hass avocado, tomato granité, tomato and lime segments, with house-made corn chips and cilantro. Third is Asparagus, Quail Eggs 63*C, Mushrooms and Frisée, followed by Deconstructed New England Clam Chowder. The next course is Lobster Americaine, butter-poached Maine lobster with a pipette of lobster bisque. Boneless Chicken Wing with Spanish Green Olive Purée will be followed by Beef Hangar Steak with Piquillo Pepper Confit. The meal concludes with Pineapple and Fennel Salad with Coconut and Chilled Pineapple Soup.   The price includes two selected glasses of wine.  Call 210-496-0555 for reservations.

Blackbird Wine Dinner
Thursday, June 10, 7 p.m., $150 plus tax and gratuity
Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood
219 E. Houston St.
Michael Polenski, the winery’s proprietor, will discuss the Merlot-based wine, which will be paired with this six -course meal prepared by chef Mark Bohanan.  The first course is Fredericksburg Peaches with Basil-infused Youngblood Honey, matched with 2009 Blackbird Arriviste Rosé; which will be followed by Butter-poached Cold Water Lobster and Cantaloupe Sashimi with Citrus Sea Salt, paired with 2009 Maisonary Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. The third course is Texas Rio Star Grapefruit Sorbet with Bruléed Grapefruit Supremes.   The next course is Manchester Farms Quail Stuffed with Spinach Chorizo on Haricots Verts finished with Berry Lacquer, complemented with 2004 and 2007 Blackbird Illustration Cabernet Sauvignon.  The fifth dish is Grilled and Roasted Prime Beef Tenderloin, Cippolini Onions, and Red and White Fingerling Potatoes, paired with 2006 and 2007 Blackbird Contrarion Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dessert is Chocolate Decadence Petits Fours, paired with 2007 Blackbird Arise Merlot.  Valet parking is available.  For reservations, call Jenny Rabb at 210-324-5645.

Texas Folklife Festival
Friday, June 11, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday, June 12, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, June 13, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Adults $15 ($10 in advance), Children ages 6 – 11 $5 ($5 in advance), Children 5 and under free
Institute of Texan Cultures
801 S. Bowie St.
More than 40 different cultures will gather celebrating their costumes, dance, and food.  Advance tickets are available at: H-E-B stores, Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, UTSA’s Fiscal Services offices, and the Institute of Texan Cultures Museum Store. www.texasfolklifefestival.org

Cooking Demonstrations at the Pearl
Saturday, June 12
Pearl Farmers Market
200 East Grayson
In addition to fresh produce, cooking demonstrations and musical entertainment are on the agenda at the Pearl Farmers Market, local chefs will be offering cooking demonstrations and sharing tips and recipes for using fresh seasonal produce. Chef Brian West of Las Ramblas will be performing this week’s demo.  Demonstrations start a 9:30 a.m.; the market’s general hours are 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.   The market also features a changing chef’s table lunch menu by chef Johnny Hernandez, “representing what is seasonal and regional in our cuisine.” Hernandez serves the meal family-style and discusses each vendor and their seasonal ingredients. For information or reservations, go to www.mesalegre.com.

“CIA Favorites
Saturday, June 12, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., $250
Culinary Institute of America (CIA) San Antonio
312 Pearl Parkway, Building 3 (In the Pearl Center)
Learn some of the CIA’s favorite recipes including appetizers, entrées, and desserts.  Participants will receive a CIA logo apron and a copy of “The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook”.

Raw Culinary Arts Cooking Class
Saturday, June 12, 2 – 4:30 p.m., $50 plus $15 food fee
8618 Brookhaven St.
The menu includes: Green Monster Smoothie; Nut Burgers without the Grease; Kale Chips; and Fajitas with Guacamole.  For reservations, call 210-710-4793 by June 10th.  http://cme-change.com/Classes.html

Second Saturday Art & Wine Galleries Tour
Saturday, June 12, 4 – 8 p.m.
Boerne, Texas
Galleries and wine shops will exhibit art and have wine samples.  At Boerne WineSeller, 412 River Rd., there will be an artist reception for Janice Joplin from 2 – 8 p.m.  A free trolley will shuttle you between all of the events. 

Gospel Brunch with a Texas Twist
Sunday, June 13, 10:30 a.m. – noon, $25 adults, $12.50 children
Gruene Hall
Gruene Historic District
New Braunfels, TX
“A New Orleans style gospel brunch with a Texas twist.”  More information is at https://tickets.gruenehall.com/Event.asp?EventID=655.

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Torre di Pietra Wins Award


Don Pullum has had a busy year. In addition to growing grapes at his Mason vineyard and making wine for Sandstone Cellars, he’s been making wine for Torre di Pietra in Fredericksburg. But his efforts have been fruitful.

“One of the first wines, Torre di Pietra 2009 Black Spanish Reserve, just received a silver medal at the 2010 National Women’s Wine Competition in Santa Rosa, Calif.,” he says.

You can find the wines at the vineyard as well as Sandstone Cellars, which is carrying the Black Spanish, the Torre di Pietra 2009 Blanc du Bois and the Torre di Pietra 2009 Late Harvest Reserve Zinfandel. You can also order the wines directly from Torre di Pietra (click here).

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