Sunday, August 22, 2010

Passport Not Required: Part I

My parents came to town for a visit this weekend, and we spent three pleasurable days exploring Cincinnati. I just love sharing my city with out-of-town guests!

We kicked off the weekend with a wine tasting at Oakley Wines, a little shop around the corner that features a unique and thoughtful variety of wines from all over the world.

Oakley Wines offers a wine tasting every Friday evening. For $5, you can sample seven unique wines, which are often the favorites of owners Joe and Lois Santangelo. In addition to the wine and the welcome mat, Joe and Lois also roll out the snacks. They're all about supporting local business, so they often feature a couple of cheeses from Findlay Market or spreads from Hyde Park Fish Market. They've also been known to serve homemade olive tapenade and hummus.

Says Joe, there are only two rules at Oakley Wines' Friday night tastings: "No empty glasses, and eat a lot!"

And here's one more rule for you: All of Oakley Wines' bottles sell for $20 or less. Now those are some rules I can get behind!

Apart from the casual, laid-back vibe, the wine, and the snacks, I always enjoy a tasting at Oakley Wines because Joe and Lois, and the rest of their clientele, are just so darn nice.

I mean, the first time I stopped into the shop was last October, the weekend after I moved to the neighborhood and the same weekend the shop opened. I was in my running tights, huffing and sweating and panting, "Oh, just moved in and saw you were open--couldn't wait to stop in!". But Joe and Lois welcomed me to the neighborhood and to their shop, and chatted happily with me about the shop, the wine, and their passion for traveling and bring little pieces of the world back to Oakley.

I've been in for the Friday night wine tastings several times this summer, and they recognize me now, welcoming me back each time with a smile and a "Glad you're back! How've you been?"

There's always someone ready to strike up a conversation. On Friday, we all really enjoyed chatting it up with Joe and Lois!

My parents and I sampled a variety of interesting wines from all over the United States and world, including:
  • Tierra de Luna Torrontes-Chardonnay 2009 (Argentina)
  • Yering Marsanne-Viognier-Roussanne 2005 (Australia)
  • Payout Longshot 2008 (California), a Viognier with "bits of Roussanne and Riesling
  • Il Follo Prosecco (Italy)
  • Monte Volpe Primo Rosso 2007 (California), a red blend
  • Airlie Pinot Noir 2008 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
  • Parlay the Bookmaker 2008 (California), a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, and Petit Verdot
Of the whites, Mom and Dad liked the Torrontes-Chard, which was light and refreshing, with just a hint of richness from the Chardonnay. My pick was the Yering MVR, because the flavor seemed to unfold more and more as I sipped.

Of the reds, Mom and Dad got happy over the Primo Rosso, while I fell for the Bookmaker, as much for his full-bodied flavor and silky tannins as for his name!

Of course, no casual night out in Oakley would be complete without a stop at Dewey's Pizza and Aglamesis Brothers. We were crushed to learn that we'd missed the end of Aglamesis' seasonal Peach ice cream, so we consoled ourselves with a selection of their other decadent and delicious flavors. Dad had the Black Raspberry Chip, Mom--the coffee connoisseur--had the Mocha Chip, and I had the Banana Chip. It was serious stuff, people, with big chunks of real banana!

Afterward, it was off to bed to rest up for an adventure-filled Saturday...

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