December 2011 Wine Guy: Springfield Grille hosts event featuring holiday, seasonal beers

By JOHN WEBSTER | Metro Monthly Columnist

NOVEMBER 2011 – October provided a number of fine wine and beer tasting events for people looking to stock up on holiday party supplies and gifts.

Springfield Grille’s monthly dinner taste featured a collection of holiday and seasonal beers that were just fantastic. I can highly recommend these beers for your upcoming holiday get-togethers. Springfield Grille prepared a harvest-style menu for its annual beer taste that complemented the beer selections.

An apple puff pastry filled with Jarlsberg and Brie was paired to Breckenridge Brewery’s Agave Wheat Ale. Crisp and refreshing, this seasonal ale was a perfect balance to the rich cheesy apple dumpling. Another brew sampled during this course was the Two Brothers Brewing’s Domaine Dupage French-style country ale. Deep amber in color and a little more full-bodied than the Agave Wheat Ale, it also worked very nicely with the apple dumpling.

Kobe beef sliders (small sandwiches) on garlic crostini were the next offering, accompanied by a seasonal Dogfish Pumpkinhead Brown Ale. The Pumpkinhead is seasoned with brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, producing a rich profile of flavors that was delicious with the tasty sliders.

Our first main course offering was roasted chicken jambalaya. This spicy dish had me thinking of my trips to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. A crisp and hoppy Anderson Valley IPA from Mendocino, Calif. was poured to go with the savory jambalaya. Homemade beef brisket with caramelized onion bread pudding was paired to Breckenridge Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate flavors just oozed from every sip of this full-bodied brew. This was a classic food and beverage combination that everyone should have the chance to enjoy.

For dessert, we were poured a sample of Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter (brewed with real vanilla beans) to go with the Grille’s Irish Tiramisu. Roasted nuts and dark chocolate flavors followed by a bold finish paired nicely to the rich tiramisu.

Early last month, Wine and Dine Ohio returned to Station Square Ristorante in Liberty with a bevy of exciting wines from around the world to sample with Chef Ottavio’s delicious menu offerings. Our first wine was the 2009 Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Crisp herb and lime flavors were a fine match for the recommended boiled bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Jed Steele’s 2009 Chardonnay from California was chosen to go with the chicken carbonara. Bright and creamy citrus flavors followed by a long finish tinged with vanilla proved to be a nice balance for the rich parmesan cream sauce served with the sautéed chicken.

Station Square’s homestyle Roma lasagna was the suggested pairing for Argentina’s 2009 Altosur Malbec. Intense berry and cherry fruit flavors followed by a silky satisfying finish made each bite of the lasagna a real treat for those who ordered it.

California’s Russian River Valley was the source of our next wine. Hook and Ladders’ 2008 Tillerman Blend is a tasty cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon (51 percent), Cabernet Franc (24 percent) and Merlot (15 percent). Fruit from this AVA (region) is cool climate in style, exhibiting bright raspberry and black cherry flavors. This aromatic red worked very well with a number of dishes from the Station’s busy grill.

Our final wine was the 2008 Shannon Ridge Barbera from Lake County, Calif. Silky smooth dark fruit flavors and a rich clean finish made every dish from Ottavio’s grill a real treat. This new-world Barbera compares nicely to many from Italy’s finest estates.

On Sept. 25, I was invited to attend the Savor the Flavor wine and food event at Southern Park Mall benefiting Hospice of the Valley. With eight wine distributors and numerous restaurants in attendance, there was a number of fine wine and food choices available for the attendees to sample.

If you haven’t been to Bella’s To Go carryout restaurant across from the Shops at Boardman Park, give them a try when you want a good meal but don’t feel like preparing dinner or going to a restaurant. They have an extensive menu to choose from, and the food is excellent. While at their booth, I tried their chicken piccata drizzled with a white caper sauce. My wine choice for this entrée was Wente’s 2008 River Bank Riesling from Arroyo Seco in Monterey County, Calif. The crisp apple-tinged flavors were just the answer to the fork-tender chicken.

If you’re looking for a California Merlot at under $20 a bottle, give Rotta Winery’s 2006 Merlot from Paso Robles a try. Rich and full-bodied with a velvety smooth finish, it was wonderful with Bella’s barbecued beef brisket. Bella’s dinners range from $7.95 to $14.99 and are a great way to have a restaurant-quality meal at home with a bottle of wine from your own cellar.

October provided a number of fine store tastings for inquisitive wine drinkers. Michael Charles Premier Wines on Elm Road held a special tasting Oct. 5. My first pick was the 2009 Chateau des Karantes Rouge ($15.99) from the Languedoc region of France. The Karantes is a tasty blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre providing a ripe robust red wine suitable for wintertime roasts and stews.

My next pick is a fine choice for holiday entertaining. Portugal’s Portal Tawny Port ($18.99) is just yummy with an after-dinner coffee or dessert.

Early last month, I visited Wine Styles of Howland, and they were pouring some very interesting wines. My first pick was a delicious Tempranillo from the Castilla region of Spain. The Rojo Vivo ($10.99) is bright ruby red in color and just oozes refreshing cherry fruit flavors.  This is a great red choice for your favorite paella and chorizo recipe.

Good Pinot Noir is hard to find under $20 a bottle. At $17.99, the 2008 Contrada Pinot Noir from Sonoma County is a real treat. Elegant with bright strawberry and spice flavors, try this Pinot with lamb and roasted potatoes.

Vintage Estate Wine and Beer in Boardman introduced a handful of new wines to this area at their third Saturday tasting. If you’re looking for a citrusy, fruit-forward Chardonnay with just a smidgen of oak, the 2010 Dreaming Tree ($15.99) from the Central Coast might be a good pick for you. Citrus and baked pear flavors followed by a vanilla spice-tinged finish will have you asking for another glass.

The 2009 Dreaming Tree Crush ($15.99) is an interesting blend of two-thirds Merlot and one-third Zinfandel from California’s north coast vineyards. Jammy plum and raspberry flavors followed by a smoky herb-tinged finish should be a fine match for spicy Cajun food.

Once again, Charlie’s Premier Wines in Howland presented a host of great wines for his Saturday wine taste. If you’re looking for a fine holiday gift that will be well received, pick up a bottle of the 2008 Mayacamus Mt. Veeder Chardonnay ($39.99). This luscious Chardonnay is comparable to a white Burgundy at one-third the cost. Textured citrus flavors and a super-long supple finish is this wine’s calling card.

My next pick is a real steal at $9.99 (formerly $19.99). The 2009 Vigilance Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Hills area of Lake County, Calif. is simply delicious. Classic Cabernet fruit flavors with a smooth clean finish will make you think you are sampling a wine at more than twice its asking price.

Upcoming events include Nov. 5, Angels for Animals benefit wine and food event at the Canfield facility. Wine and Dine Ohio will have an event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at Rachel’s Westchester restaurant in Austintown, featuring the wines of Youngstown’s Tri-County Distributors. To make a reservation or get on our email list for Wine and Dine Ohio event information, call 330-651-8676, or email to provide your contact information. The Upstairs Restaurant will hold their renowned annual holiday tasting on Thursday, Nov. 17 – call the restaurant for more details. The Springfield Grille in Boardman will hold its monthly wine taste – call the restaurant for more details.

I look forward to seeing you at upcoming tastings around the Valley.

© 2011 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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