Milwaukee, where 19th century beer barons like Joseph Schlitz and
Capt. Frederick Pabst put Brew City on the map as a drinking town,
wine has at last caught up. Wine bars are sprinkled throughout
neighborhoods from Bay View to Brookfield. Winemakers swing into the
region often on coastal tours, and any night of the week thereís a
tasting poised to educate your palate. Boutique wine retailers are
cropping up, too.
In 2008, Phil
Bilodeau and Aimee Murphy relocated from Napa and Sonoma, where they
worked at Grgich Hills Estate and Hanna Winery, to open Thief Wine
Shop & Bar in the Milwaukee Public Market and Shorewood.
"Milwaukee has grown a lot wine-wise in the almost five years Iíve
been here, but still has a ways to go," Bilodeau says.
"Thereís a desire and curiosity among wine drinkers to
learn more and a willingness to try new things."
We called upon a
handful of wine experts like Bilodeau and Murphy to weigh in on
Milwaukeeís wine IQ and all things wine.
sommelier at Purple Feet Wines, Pewaukee
Milwaukee As A
Wine Town: The Bartolotta Group has attracted huge names to do events
ó Chateau Montelena, Veuve Clicquot and Mouton Rothschild, to name a
few ó and these are always well attended. But many wine consumers
still arenít willing to push the envelope. I canít believe how
many tastings I put on and people wonít even try something for free
because they have a preconceived notion they may not like it.
Wine Trend Youíre
So Over: Saying you donít like Merlot sets me in a rage. If a Saint
Emilion Grand Cru made you break out in hives or Pomerol gives you a
gag reflex then maybe you can say you donít like Merlot. If you
think you donít like Merlot and you have never tried the last two
styles of wine I mentioned, then you havenít really tried Merlot and
passing it off entirely is just close-minded.
Unexpected Pairing: At c. 1880 I drank a dry Chenin Blanc from the
Saumur region of Franceís Loire Valley paired with scallops (with
sunchokes, scallions and a subtle white-chocolate sauce). The dish
sounded almost impossible to pull off but was perfectly balanced.
Robinson, owner of Union House, Genesee Depot
Unexpected Pairing: Port wine with barbecued ribs, a pairing I learned
from a French wine nťgociant (wine merchant) in Burgundy, France.
Tips For The
Wine Newbie: Try everything thatís offered to you, both food and
wine. Savor the nuances of flavors.
combinations. Listen whenever you get the opportunity to hear from a
wine professional. Remember that tastes are as individual as
fingerprints and enjoy what you like best.
Under $50: 2006 Spelletich Cellars Bodog Red (Napa Valley, California,
sommelier and assistant manager, Mason Street Grill, Milwaukee
Milwaukee As A Wine Town: Wines not previously offered for sale have
surfaced recently, such as Turley (a very highly regarded Zinfandel
producer) and Blackbird Vineyards (Pomerol-inspired Merlot blends from
Napa). Thief Wine Shop & Bar and Balzac have proven to be very
successful ó even for a city that many had written off as an
exclusive haven for beer drinkers. Just this year, Mason Street
Grill hosted dinners with Joseph Phelps, Caymus, Blackbird Vineyards,
Laetitia, Foppiano and Clos du Val.
Wine Trend Thatís
So Over: I am bored with the more heavily oaked, high-alcohol,
candied-fruit flavored and outlandishly expensive offerings that
garner lavish praise from some wine publications. These wines are just
awful for attempting to find a happy marriage with food.
Under $50: Boom Boom Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington, $35)
sommelier and co-proprietor of Thief Wine Shop & Bar
Wine Trend: Weíve been championing dry Rosť since we started, and
itís really taken off. We used to have to work hard to convince
people it wasnít white Zin, and now itís got a huge following
among our customers. Food-friendly, refreshing, affordable and thereís
a huge range of flavors and styles.
Unexpected Pairing: Lopez de Herediaís 1973 Vina Tondonia Gran
Reserva Rioja Blanco at a tapas bar in Haro, Rioja, Spain, in 2001. It
was astonishing to see how well an almost 30-year-old oaked white went
perfectly with what we ate ó cured meats, cod, egg-based tapas,
potato, stuffed piquillo peppers, etc.
Tips For Wine
Newbies: Start an informal wine group and taste wines side by side.
Most people have a decent palate. They just donít have the
vocabulary or experience to articulate it.
Angelou once said, "There is no greater agony than bearing
an untold story inside you." Luckily for writer (and M
contributor) Jenna Kashou, sheíll be telling a plethora of
noteworthy, eclectic stories over the next six months as The
Pfister Hotelís newest narrator.
the fifth narrator since the program began, will post blog
entries about twice a week at blog.thepfisterhotel.com, regaling
readers with stories and anecdotes about the hotelís varied
ó and often high profile ó visitors and guests.
versatile Kashou is a Radio Milwaukee grant writer by day, and a
hip party deejay by night. She has a degree from the University
of Iowa in mass communications and Spanish, and a graduate
certificate in digital storytelling from Marquette University.
such an honor to meet new people and tell their stories,"
says Kashou. "I canít wait to catalog all the intriguing
characters at The Pfister."