Thursday, May 13, 2010

Your Private Invitation: Wine Craze Milwaukee

Are you the type who can really sit back and enjoy a glass of great wine?  Do you wish there was a more affordable way to expand your palate and sample some new things?

We might have just the suggestion for you.

This evening we had the privilege to attend a private tasting event -- a "sneak peek," if you will, into all the best of a brand new wine event at Clear in the Intercontinental Hotel, Milwaukee.  "Wine Craze", which takes place on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-8:30pm, captures the spirit of true wine appreciation by offering patrons the opportunity to sample pours of exceptional wines for only $5.

Our host, Stephan Fitz, presented us with three fantastic red wines, each one better than the last:

Brewer-Clifton, Lindsay's Pinot Noir. 2006.
Mid Tier. Pomegranate, cured pork and cayenne truffle aromas followed by cranberry and kirsch flavors. Very savory and brambly on the palate with dry, gripping tannins
La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. 2001.
High End  95+ Points - The Wine Advocate, Robert M. Parker, "It offers up smoky, sweet scents of lead pencil shavings, cedar, spice box, volcanic earth, black currants, and smoke. With excellent fruit, full-bodied power, a layered texture, and an exceptionally long finish."

"The Prisoner" by Orinswift Zinfandel Blend. Napa Valley, 2008.
Mid Tier. The front of the wine is soft and almost immediately begins evolving into the broad mid-palate. The mid has weight, length, and structure. The acids were great in 2008 and provide an essential rounding effect to the "big fruit" inherent in the wine. The finish is long and filled with ripe, soft tannins. The 2008 has much the same tannin structure of the 2004 which is a personal favorite.

We were also treated to a variety of seriously delicious tapas -- all of which made fantastic partners for the wine.  First, they brought out a bowl of blistered shishito peppers, prepared in the traditional manner (fried and lightly salted).
Then we happily munched on crab boursin "tater tots" with blue crab, herbed boursin cheese, and garlic-chili ranch dipping sauce.
We were delighted by the flatbread with roasted garlic olive oil, shaved onion, vine ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and fontina.
 And there was also baked goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce, basil pesto, and grilled ciabatta bread.

All of the tapas were exceptional, though the shishito peppers were the surprising hit.  Exceedingly addicting, these not-too-spicy peppers packed a flavorful punch and made you want to continue popping them into your mouth one right after another.

And that wine... well, let's just say we're still thinking about it (and saving up our money for another bottle of that La Jota Cabernet...).

The weather this week has been cold and rainy -- desolate at its worst, and dreary at its best. Not exactly the sort of week you'd celebrate -- particularly around "hump" day.  But, as we sat around the table sipping our wine and chatting, it occurred to me that this is exactly the sort of event that could break up the mid-week monotony.  In fact, it was the perfect solution for our Wednesday Blues... and a nice bit of exercise for our ever-expanding wine palates!

So, the next time you get the urge to really savor a nice glass of wine among friends, think about stopping over to Clear for a sip of something lovely.  And, if it happens to be a Wednesday, be sure you take advantage of those "Wine Craze" specials. 

Trust us, you won't be sorry.

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  1. Great post about the Wine Craze! I was so impressed by the impeccable service, wines and food at this event! Stephan was the most wonderful host and so informative! My taste buds were totally delighted with the shisito peppers and I was taken hostage by "The Prisoner"! I will certainly seek out that glorious blended wine again. And it was great to meet both of you!

  2. Sounds like I have plans for Wednesdays in the future... This all looks incredible, and I love you tasting notes. I'd trust your palate anywhere!

  3. Thanks for posting this so early today! I am going to be using it on my facebook and twitter account all day! It was a great event, and I want to help get the word out! (Plus, you were smart and took better photos then me. ;) )

  4. Sounds like a really nice event! The food looks incredible too!

  5. R - I must confess that, in this case, the tasting notes aren't my own (they were copied from the Wine Craze Web site). But, they were so lovely (and accurate) that I decided to use them!

  6. I always have so much fun at Burp! When are you opening your restaurant?

    Please pass the Lindsay's Pinot Noir. I'm going to go with it, even though "cure pork" was in the description. I like the idea pomegranate and cayenne truffle aromas. Oh, not to mention cranberry and kirsch flavors. Brambly? I'll have to look that one up. I always learn something new when I visit you guys.


  7. This looks really fun and too good to be true! This happens every Wednesday? 5 dollar sample pours? I'll definitely have to check that out.


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