Sunday, November 25, 2007

About bein' wine-y

I woke up this morning without a hangover, so I must not have drunk all that much wine yesterday during our little "Sideways" adventure.
We took off around lunch for Berlin Heights, Ohio, a teeny little town with lots of history. More importantly, there's a little bar named Oliver's that has the best bar food in northern Ohio, including a perch sandwich I would drive a lot longer for than from Norwalk to Berlin Heights.
But before we hit Oliver's, we checked out Samuel Patterson baskets, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and having a little open house to celebrate. It's part of the Berlin Basket Company, which mostly makes fruit and vegetable baskets. The Samuel Patterson baskets are more artesian baskets, beautifully made, lovely to look at, and their anniversary baskets are especially nice. Plus, they had some snacks, and the Miss Basket Queen of Berlin Heights was there (we had previously seen her in the Milan Melon Festival Parade in all her royal basketry).
Two cookies and some admiration later, we were off to Oliver's, and a wonderful by-product of Ohio's no-smoking ban was, it is now smoke-free! I could enjoy my fresh lake perch sandwich with sweet potato fries in fresh air.
It was now safe to proceed to the main event of the day: wine-tasting. Quarry Hill Winery was our first stop, and they did not disappoint.
Regional wine being our favorites, my dad frequents Quarry Hill for their blueberry wine. I love their honey crisp (an apple wine) and Jayme is a fan of their Buckeye Red, a soft red wine. Just a dollar and we tasted a couple new one, their riesling being the best. They are also a working orchard, so their rustic gift shop/wine bar is in a big ole barn that smells great and is full of fresh apples, produce, and gift items. Unfortunately, we had forgotten Quarry Hill is cash or checks only, so we were limited in our purchases.
Not to be stopped, we continued to Firelands winery near Sandusky, a slightly more sophisticated establishment that's been around since the 19th century.
The older gentleman helping us must have been an owner, for his knowledge was extensive and he was happy to answer our questions.
We weren't the only ones tasting--by the time we finished up,the long wooden bar was full of testers and there was a line to check out. People weren't just buying one bottle, either!
I don't know which one I liked better--the locally made riesling, or the cabernet sauvignon, or the imported chianti.
When we mentioned the fruit wines we'd tasted at Quarry Hill, even though we'd tasted all six samples Firelands was offering that day, our bartender hauled out the red raspberry and the blueberry by Firelands. Both excellent!
I came away with a box of good stuff, four of which are Christmas gifts, and a new appreciation for the careful vintners of northern Ohio.
Well, how 'bout you? Done any taste-testing lately?

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