The Perfect Grilling Wine

I like to think of Mourvèdre, a red-wine grape, as an ideal wine for sipping with grilled foods. It’s heavy-bodied but not oaky; fruity but not a fruit bomb. You get my drift. Basically, it’s a crowd pleaser in that it’s approachable yet it can also stand up to the smoky flavors from a grill. Here are two wines featuring this luscious grape that would be great to pull out during your next backyard barbecue. 2011 Hahn Winery GSM (Central Coast, California, $14) features 59 percent Grenache, 37 percent Syrah and 4 percent Mourvèdre, resulting in notes of concentrated dark-red…

Festa Italiana’s New Wine Experience

You probably know Festa Italiana, which kicks off tonight at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, as a place to indulge in bocce, gelato and romantic canal rides. Wine is the festival’s lesser-known sibling. New this year is Uncorked: The Wine Tasting Experience, which shifts the focus to Italian wines (plus California vintners with Italian roots, like Andretti Winery and Baldacci Vineyards). Hosted by Milwaukee’s own LoDuca Brothers, it all takes place in a tent on the grounds’ South End, complete with a wine auction, wine by the glass and wine lectures. A passport costs $25 and gets you into every…

Summer Sparklers

Photo by Thomas Nardini A bottle of bubbly is the perfect refresher after a hot summer day. In fact, I kicked back with a bottle at Chill on the Hill in Bay View earlier this week, where a blues band filled the bandshell and a cool breeze fanned the crowd. Here are two of my favorites. Both are a dry-style sparkling wine and would pair well with summer salads or grilled white meats or fish. 2009 Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Brut Rose (Arroyo Grande Valley, California, $28) is prepared using methode champenoise, and Chardonnay/Pinot Noir grapes, resulting in a very…

Summer Wine Suggestions

Summer wines can be tricky. You want something refreshing, crisp but not sugar-y sweet. Bradley Wooten, sommelier at Mason Street Grill, offers up a few primers to help sift through the offerings that can help quell a humid evening. “Any low-alcohol, high-acid offering is always a crisp and refreshing off-set to the warmer and often humid Wisconsin summers,” he says, pointing to Rosé and Champagne as two solid examples. Also perfect for summer are Torrontés, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc (bonus if it’s from New Zealand, with higher levels of acidity and zestier than in other wine-growing regions). And is…

Bacchus’ Vegetarian and Wine Pairings

What’s a vegetarian-and-wine-lover to do when faced with advice like “drink red wine with a steak” or “sip white wine with fish?” Bacchus, the tony eatery tucked into the ground floor of the Cudahy Tower on Milwaukee’s East Side, offers a five-star meatless menu to calm those concerns. What I adore about this vegetarian menu is that not only can you eat Wisconsin artisan cheeses and early-summer vegetables like asparagus, arugula and spring peas to your heart’s desire, those dishes can be paired with one of the city’s best wine lists. Cornmeal cake with truffle vinaigrette sipped with Chardonnay? What…

Staller Estate Winery Worth a Stop

Wisconsin wineries often get a bad rap, which is too bad because some are pretty darn good. Among my favorites is Staller Estate Winery in Delavan, owned by a 30-something couple. They’ve transformed a former dairy barn and machine shed into a modern tasting room and winemaking facility. Their first vintage came out in 2007, and the tasting room opened in the spring of 2008.  So far, Wendy and Joe Staller have earned 50 awards for their wines, which are all made using grapes grown in Southern Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and New York State. Last fall they began to harvest…

Sipping Wine at Milwaukee’s Hottest Patio

After a run of overcast skies, the sun peeked out on Monday and so I zoomed over to the Iron Horse Hotel in Walker’s Point to test-drive new executive chef Grand Slauterbeck’s tweaks to a menu of small bites, wine and cocktails. Florence & the Machine and vintage Cure tunes filled The Yard – an outdoor patio with sun sails, sectional sofas, upcycled cocktail tables and yes, even adorable puppies – as I sipped a glass of Hanna Winery Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California) and Cloudline Cellars Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon). These are just two by-the-glass…

Picnic-Friendly White Wines

Come summer, it’s ideal to have a chilled white wine ready to bring to an outdoor concert or picnic. To make your stash lighter, consider a bottle with a screw-cap enclosure. (Who wants to lug a heavy wine-bottle opener?) From New Zealand to Monterey, here are some solid suggestions. All are budget-friendly, leaving you room to splurge more on the edible fixings to pair with these wines. 2012 Terrazas de Los Andes Reserva Chardonnay (Mendoza, Argentina, $20) features juicy banana, lime and peach notes along with a nose of jasmine, toasty mouth feel and silky finish, for an offbeat Chardonnay.…

Wine on the Water

Riverside dining is one of the many perks of summer. Wine Maniacs On the River opened the Thursday before Memorial Day on a sweet spot along the Milwaukee River, at 106 W. Seeboth St., in Walker’s Point, next to Screaming Tuna Sushi and Asian Bistro and inside the former 106 Seeboth. (If the name is sounding familiar, there’s a reason: Wine Maniacs’ first location is in Oconomowoc.) Fifty wines are by the glass and if that’s not hip enough for ya, there’s a “Cool Kids” loft for private events. Lunch is served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the doors…

Say Hello to Door County’s Newest Winery

With lilacs in bloom and the outdoor temperatures spiking up, it’s time to start thinking about a weekend getaway, right? Last week the owners of Parallel 44 Winery in Kewaunee announced their plans to open a brand-new winery – including a tasting room – in Door County. Door 44 Winery, which will be like Parallel 44 in that all wines are made from grapes grown in the Midwest (many in Wisconsin), opens on June 7 in Sturgeon Bay. For more info, and to start planning your visit to the 3,000-square-foot winery, check out the winery’s website. WINE DEAL OF THE…