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South Beach’s Sizzling Wine Scene
Fleeing Wisconsin's weather proves fruitful.

Last week I practiced a little carpe diem and fled our ice-caked city for a few days in search of some sunshine. Destination: Miami Beach, Fla. After a night’s sleep at The Angler’s Resort, a cute little boutique hotel whose interior designer worked on Versace’s Miami Beach mansion, I worked the streets in search of not only the best wine lists, but where to get an ocean view or soak up the Art Deco scene.

If you’re on the hunt for exquisite, can’t-find-this-anywhere-else foods to pair with your wine, then Red: The Steakhouse is a must. Delicacies are often limited-time offerings. Last week, it was prize-winning cattle the chef bought up in Magasaki, Japan. On the menu a 5-oz piece of this meat was $99. I liked my glass of the 2010 Sanford Winery Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara County) so much I ordered a second once the main dish arrived (King salmon on a bed of lobster ravioli followed by cheesecake topped with macerated cherries).

The James Royal Palm Hotel unveiled its extensive renovation in November, including avocado-green chairs (with wheels) and massive porthole windows in the lobby bar. At the Florida Cookery near the pool I sipped Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose (Rhône Valley, France) with a 1948 recipe of conch chowder.

A bento-box lunch at Juvia above a stylish parking garage on bustling Lincoln Road (it’s a pedestrian-only mall with wandering musicians and outdoor dining) meant gazing at the Ocean Drive skyline from the restaurant’s open-air space, a glass of Albariño in hand and a vertical garden just behind me.

Back at The Angler’s restaurant one night, I paired a glass of Familia Zuccardi Torrontés with scallop ceviche and veggie empanadas. (A guide with Miami Culinary Tours filled me in on a little secret: For the country’s most diverse crop of Torrontés wines, come to Miami.) I nearly forgot how cold Wisconsin can get in winter, which was precisely the point of this little vacation.


It’s a familiar quandary for wine lovers as they peruse a restaurant’s wine list. What, you mean I can’t try every single wine – or at least a handful – until I find one I like? On Jan. 29, Sala, an Italian restaurant across the street from UW-Milwaukee on North Downer Avenue, is pouring six Italian wines for free from 5-8:30 p.m. Start with Prosecco then ease into the whites and reds. Each of those wines will be available for purchase with your dinner. (Options range from light salads to hearty dishes like Saltinbocca, which is chicken, prosciutto, gorgonzola and sage beurre blanc.)


Curious about what wines to uncork during the Super Bowl? Thief Wine Shop & Bar aims to give you some advice at its “Super Bowl Wines” drop-in tastings next week. Choose from Jan. 29 at either 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. at Milwaukee Public Market or Jan. 30 at either 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. at the Shorewood location. The price depends on how many pours you opt for. While I don’t have a list of the wines that will be uncorked, I do hear they will be “easy-drinking, snack-friendly offerings.” If you’ve long been curious about what wine to sip with a bag of Doritos or crock-pot concoctions, it’s definitely worth a stop. No RSVP is required.


A friend recently brought over a bottle of Cedar Creek Winery “Cedarburg Spice” Red Wine (Cedarburg, Wis., $8), a mulled wine designed be drank warm. We fully intended to heat up a few mugs’ worth but first we sampled it at room temperature. Turns out it’s good enough to drink without some heat. The sweet red wine features orange-zest note and mild spices (cinnamon, cloves and allspice) and is made from Marechal Foch grapes.

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