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Sip Local
Regional Wine Week gave this blogger an excuse to sip locally, as if she needed another one.

Photo of Parallel 44 Winery & Vineyard courtesy of its Facebook page.

Did you hear that Regional Wine Week was earlier this month, the week of Nov. 12? It’s a movement among wine writers to throw praise towards local wines. I used the month’s newly established holiday as an excuse to sip locally. Parallel 44 Winery & Vineyard is in Kewaunee along the shores of Lake Michigan and the gateway to Door County.

Here are my favorites from this 7-year-old winery that proudly wears Wisconsin roots (its “Frozen Tundra” label wines are proof).

Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery “Frozen Tundra” Red ($14) features a sweet-cherry nose followed by cranberry notes. I brought it to my writers group and it was a hit. As it resembles a well-balanced fruit wine – bordering on sweet – I’d use this as an after-dinner wine.

Parallel 44 Winery & Vineyard “Frozen Tundra” White ($14) is semi-sweet with notes of honeyed peaches. If you like Riesling wines, give this a whirl.

Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery Frontenac Gris ($14) is an off-dry style of wine marked by assertive pineapple notes that develop into a bright, fresh flavor.

Parallel 44 Vineyard & Winery Glacier White ($18) was my favorite among these four, as it wasn’t over-the-top sweet. The tropical-fruit and nectarine notes don’t hit you over the head but are instead bright and fresh, a flavor that lingers on the palate.

Otto’s Wine & Spirits – with seven locations throughout the Milwaukee area – dishes out discounts on the wines it sells via an e-mail newsletter. Sign up for Otto’s Exclusive Club. It’s an ideal source for hunting down affordable wines to gift, or bottles of sparkling wine to uncork on New Year’s Eve. Next, turn your attention back to gift wrapping and addressing those holiday-photo cards. Once you sign up, the deals (plus invitations to special wine events and tastings) will come to you.

I can’t help but notice the rash of new drop-in painting studios where wine is flowing just as much as the creativity. Bring your artsy friends (I already know who I would call up, ahem) together over a bottle of wine this winter while wielding a paintbrush for what one studio calls “liquid therapy.” Choose from a class already on the calendar, or pull out your calendars among friends and plan a private event. Supplies are provided. All you need to bring is a source of inspiration (don’t worry if you don’t have one: The staff can help drag it out of you with prompts and visuals) – and your palate, of course. Arte Wine & Painting Studio in Wauwatosa’s Village and Splash Studio in the Third Ward are two studios in our area.

This time of year it’s a good idea to stock up on a dessert wine for impromptu gatherings with friends and family members, whether it’s an open house, a cookie exchange or simply quality time. Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port (Porto, Portugal, $22) has toasty, syrupy layers of boysenberries and cherries, coupled with a finish that doesn’t quit but instead lingers quietly on the palate. This would be a sweet (literally) pairing with a chocolate or hazelnut dessert but feel free to drink solo too. (Who says every wine needs a pairing?) (grahams-port.com)

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