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Romantic Getaway for Wine Lovers
Kohler offers a special Valentine's Day treat. Plus: a wine deal in an unexpected place.

Last autumn I celebrated a romantic anniversary at The American Club Resort in the company town of Kohler. We oohed and aahed at the $6,000 NUMI toilet (it plays music!) in the Kohler Design Center, ate lunch overlooking the 18th green at Blackwolf Run, and bit into terrapins crafted on site at Craverie Chocolatier Cafe. I also treated myself to the “Bourbon on the Rocks” pedicure. (Yes, you sip bourbon while your toes are pampered.)

But for wine lovers there is a definite reason to trek to Kohler: not just the sheer volume of choices but the ability to drink them with top-notch, flawlessly executed cuisine. For example, at Blackwolf Run we sipped flutes of Domaine Carneros Brut Sparkling Wine (Carneros, Calif.) with Bloody Mary scallops, Poet’s Leap Riesling (Columbia Valley, Wash.) with a “crispy goat cheese salad” and Van Duzer’s “Vintners Cuvee” (Willamette Valley, Ore.) with duck prepared three ways. At night, we sipped amazing wines yet again, starting with tapas in the Winery Bar – 2011 Matua Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand) with sushi and 2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Ore.) with Roth Käse Buttermilk Blue cheese – where all wines have earned a score of at least 88 points from Robert Parker, and then a leisurely dinner in the elegant Immigrant Restaurant. While extremely skilled in the kitchen, Chef Matt Bauer is also down to earth: He actually deconstructed his grandma’s zucchini-bread recipe to create a dish. Capping off the meal, which included tiger prawns in popcorn puree with chorizo, was Hook’s Cheese Company 5-year-aged cheddar paired with Pinot Noir.

For Valentine’s Day, The American Club Resort has rolled out a decadent treat for lovebirds: a wine dinner on Feb. 15 in the Immigrant Restaurant. Bauer will pair chocolates with wine for a four-course meal dancing between sweet and savory ($95). To be in on the fun, dial 800-344-2838.

You know Transfer Pizzeria for its pizza. But did you know about its Wine Club? Every third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. all you have to do is slip the staff a five-dollar bill and in return you get a flight of wines along with a mini-presentation by a wine expert (it’s often Holly Pody of Prestige Wines). Wines poured are also for sale – and you’ll likely have plenty of cash left in your wallet to splurge on dinner. (A full menu is available during the wine-club event.)

Winter can be brutal but what better occasion to brave the frigid outdoor temps than a cozy, indoor wine event? The ninth-annual Milwaukee Wine Opener will be Feb. 8 at Hilton Milwaukee City Center. You can gather with other wine lovers at this gorgeous Art Deco hotel for an opportunity to treat your palate to 70-some selections of wine from Johnson Brothers (a Wisconsin distributor of wines from the world over). Zach Wade performs live music and there is also a silent auction and raffle (so bring your checkbooks!) as well as small bites from local restaurants to help you devise some pairings. The event starts at 6 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m. Ticket prices begin at $70. To sign up, call Kelly at 262-798-2060. The event benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

I love to put sommeliers to the test with a food-pairing question. So when I recently sat down at Thief Wine Shop & Bar’s Milwaukee Public Market location with a bread bowl of clam chowder procured from The Soup & Stock Market a few stands away, I posed the question. “Chardonnay,” the employee said without skipping a beat. The 2011 Byron Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County, Calif., $7.50 a glass at Thief Wine) was a perfect match: It’s a classic crisp California-style Chardonnay with a floral nose: a full, buttery mouth feel interlaced with creamy lemon and stone-fruit notes and a finish that features subtle spiciness and soft minerals. (www.byronwines.com)

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