When you think wine pairing, you probably think about wine and cheese, wine and chocolate and, well, wine and every kind of food. Gary Decker thinks about those things, too. But lately, he’s been thinking about the pairing of wine and local singles.
Decker is the owner of Vinomania, a funky little wine and spirits boutique on Pearl Street, down the block near Columbus Bakery. He’s not a matchmaker — unless someone comes in the store and is looking for just the right wine to serve with a dish they’re making. On May 7, Decker hosted his first “Singles Mingle and Wine Tasting” event at Vinomania. About 30 people, ages roughly 25 to 40, sampled wine, munched on tasty hors d’oeuvres and chatted for a couple hours after work.
“It’s not a dating service,” Decker says with a laugh. “People who like wine like to talk about wine. We’ll run it for a couple months or more… It takes a while for things to take off.”
Here’s how it works: Decker selects about 10 wines that are appropriate to the season and sets up tasting stations around the store so there is a natural flow and guests can circulate. He offers food samples to go with the wines, and not just your standard cheese and crackers. For the first tasting, the menu included cheeses, olives, homemade tapenade (olive spread), prosciutto and “caprese skewers” with tomato, mozzarella and basil.
“You need good food to go with good wine,” Decker says. “It’s a nice atmosphere, it’s easy to mix and mingle. Wine is a great common denominator. It helps to break the ice.”
For the first event, Decker poured a Graham Beck sparkling wine from South Africa, a Cousino Macul Chardonnay from Chile, a Cabernet, Shiraz and Monastrell blend from Spain (Mad Dogs and Englishmen), a Ciro Rose from southern Italy “because it’s getting to be barbecue season,” and a half-dozen others. For the June 4 event, Decker plans to serve vegetables and other appetizers from the grill, alongside a roster of warm-weather wines.
Decker says about three-quarters of the roughly 30 people who attended May 7 were new faces. That’s the beauty of special events: “It turns them on to my store.”
Decker plans to offer the “Singles Mingle and Wine Tastings” the first Thursday of the month, for as long as there is interest. The next one is June 4, 5 to 7 p.m. Vinomania hosts wine pairing/tasting events at least once a month, teaming up with local food businesses like Lune Chocolat, of Manlius. Check the calendar at the Vinomania website for details.
Vinomania is in the Nettleton Commons Building, 313 E. Willow St., with its entrance on Pearl Street. Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For details, visit vinoman.biz or facebook.com/Vinomania.
Everything’s Coming Up Roses
Riesling reigns in the Finger Lakes, but have you discovered the region’s dry Rose wines?
Nearly 30 winemakers in the region are now producing dry Roses — emphasis on the word dry, because they are not to be confused with sweet blush wines. The Finger Lakes Roses are European-style wines made from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Syrah varietals. The skins are removed from the juice early in the winemaking process to create wines that range from very pale pink to salmon-colored. The wines are crisp, refreshing and “fruit forward” — perfect for impromptu picnics and perfect for pairing with warm-weather fare, like seafood, grilled meats and vegetables and salads.
The Discover Dry Rose promotion in the Finger Lakes continues through May. Visit the website discoverdryrose.com for a map of participating wineries and a tasting sheet to download and take with you to tasting rooms. More information is also available at FACEBOOK.