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Tapas and Wine
Tapas are the perfect way to try a bunch of wine pairings. And España Tapas House is a great place to do it.

"few glasses of Spanish wine, with a snack" photo from Shutterstock.

Tapas are pretty much the Holy Grail of wine pairings. For one, you have miniature-sized portions, which translate to many more opportunities to experience how a particular wine tastes with various flavors. Think about the rich diversity in Spanish food, too. There’s fat in Serrano ham; sweetness in honey and tangy sauces; and plenty of quesos (from manchego to goat cheese).

España Tapas House, open since March of last year, recently rolled out a lunch menu. When a friend who lived in Barcelona and traveled throughout Spain visited me, I knew I had to take her there. The verdict is that this place is pretty much a mirror of the tapas you’ll eat in Spain. I tried dates stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with honey and wrapped with Serrano ham; a flatbread featuring grilled zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and red onion; and cheesecake topped with Manchego cheese. With glasses of Tempranillo (Spain) and Vinho Verdhe (Portugual), there are umpteen opportunities to sample tapas with wine. (Oh, and the Spanish classic – Sangria, folding in red or white wine – in about 10 different recipes!)

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, bars are poised to host wall-to-wall imbibers. If you’re a wine drinker, consider Brocach on the East Side. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily (not just weekdays), glasses of wine will run you just $5 each. It’s the perfect compromise for your Guinness-lovin’ companion, right?

If you love beer, wine and chocolate – especially in the same sitting – there’s an event you really don’t want to miss. March 22 is the 20th annual Wine, Beer & Chocolate Tasting at St. Francis Children’s Center (6700 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale). For $60 ($50 in advance; $45 if part of a group of 10 or more) you get access to dozens of tables where wines are poured left and right, along with live jazz music, chocolates, beer tastings and small bites. I volunteered at this event a few years back and vowed to come back as a participant because it’s that good. To buy tickets, call 414-351-8851 x223 or visit the website. Proceeds go to support the education, therapy and service coordination to kids in the Milwaukee area.

A cold wintry night deserves a deep, dark Cabernet Sauvignon and you can’t go wrong with 2010 Michael David Winery Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi, California, $26), with its wonderfully aromatic nose of pepper and cassis. On the palate are dark plums and soft tannins. I say you should get the fireplace crackling and pair this with a wedge of aged Wisconsin cheddar, or comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes or a juicy burger. (www.michaeldavidwinery.com)

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