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Wine With Grilled-Cheese? Yes, Please!
Pairing wines with the cheesy goodness of grilled-cheese sammies.

Knowing how I gush over a grilled-cheese sandwich, a friend recently took me to Melthouse Bistro, a 2-year-old East Side eatery that specializes in – you guessed it – grilled-cheese sandwiches. While the Cheesehead sandwich (Wisconsin aged Cheddar, Provolone and Muenster with pesto aioli on whole-wheat bread) definitely hit the spot, what really satisfied my palate was the wine pairings. Written next to each of the 20 grilled-cheese sandwiches named on a chalkboard is a beer and wine pairing. Many of them are local, including Cedar Creek Winery Unoaked Chardonnay (Cedarburg) as the suggested choice alongside a Cheesehead sandwich. For years I’ve been a closeted wine drinker chez moi with homemade grilled-cheese sammies, and I’m thrilled that this homegrown trend is now, well, out in the open.

It’s rare when a wine-tasting event costs under $40 and includes food. Otto’s Wine & Spirits is bucking the pricey trend and charging just $20 for a May 2 tasting that begins at 6 p.m. at Tripoli Country Club in Brown Deer. Two-dozen wines from VINTUS Wines’ portfolio will be poured. Included in this importer’s offerings are mostly bottles from family-owned and estate-based wineries in Italy, France and the United States, plus some from South America and Australia. While I don’t have details about what kind of food will be served, I’m told it’s delicious, light and complimentary to the wines. If you like what you sip, special pricing is available on those wines if bought that night. To sign up for the tasting you must stop into any Otto’s store.

I first tried Schug Winery’s wines about two years ago, instantly amazed at their value (nothing costs more than $30). Now it’s your chance, as the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon – made with grapes grown in Sonoma County – will be uncorked at a special May 8 tasting at Bin One Eleven in Hartford. Drop in between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and pay just $15 for the tasting (although you must pre-register by calling Bin One Eleven at 262-367-6525 or emailing binoneeleven@sbcglobal.net).

Out and about on Gallery Night last Friday, I popped into Vino 100 Milwaukee in the Third Ward as Bruce Walker was pouring his Starry Night Winery wines, which he makes in Marin County just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco en route to the Motherlode (Napa Valley and Sonoma County). My two favorites: 2009 Starry Night Winery Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel (Alexander Valley, Calif., $36), with a fragrant nose of cherry pie, and bright, expressive blackberry notes before a long finish laced with pepper and spice; and the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley, Calif., $21), reminiscent of a New Zealand style – think grassy, acidic and punchy – with notes of grapefruit.

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