Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wine Tasting in Ohio?!

The Lakehouse Inn & Winery in Geneva, OH in Ashtabula County.
Photo by OHventures.

 May is National Wine Month!

Wine has a long, rich history dating back to the ancient Greek and Roman times in 4500 BC with our favorite party animals Dionysus and Bacchus, respectively. Okay, so I had to do a little bit of Wikipedia-ing just to confirm these facts...let's just say wine has been around for a long-ass time. And, if it has been able to survive thousands of years and make its way to almost every corner of the Earth...including our lil' ol' state of Ohio...then, it must have a lot of street cred and worth trying!

Wine can be experienced in so many different ways. For me, it began when my dad took up winemaking as a hobby, long before I was legally allowed to drink wine of course. And trust me, I was too much of a good kid to even want to try it. But, when the right time came (and by then, my dad had already worked the kinks out), I got to taste my dad's wonderful homemade wine. It was a real treat! He used grapes from my grandfather's grapevine, and, most of the time, a random assortment of grapes that my brother picked out from the grocery store. This meant I got to taste wine from Ohio grapes, and wine from random grapes from random areas of the country.

The reason there are so many different kinds of wines are because there are so many different kinds of grapes. Red/purple grapes yield red wine and green/white/yellow grapes yield white wine. That may seem obvious to some people, but trust me, not everyone gets that. And other fruits are thrown in the mix from time to time as well...citrus, berries, tropical fruit, you name it. I personally like to stick to the basic red wine (pinot noir, merlot, cabernet savignon, to name a few), which is served warm and does a great job staining your teeth. I am certainly not dogging white wines (pinot grigio, savignon blanc, chardonnay...all named after the type of grape)...I will gladly drink those, however, everyone has their own personal taste. And the only way to discover what your personal taste is to taste a whole bunch of wine!

Now instead of going to the grocery store and sifting through the hundreds of varieties to throw in your shopping basket, there are much better ways to experience wine in Ohio.

1. Making Wine: As I mentioned, making your own wine takes a hell of a lot of knowledge, skill, work, time and patience. There are some locations that allow you to make your own wine with their help (such as Camelot Cellars in Columbus). We will touch on that later in the week.


2. Wine Tasting: Did you know that there are over 90 wineries in Ohio?! Many of these are in northern Ohio by the lake where grapes are grown plentifully. Some will give you tours of the wine-making process, and ALL will let you partake in wine tasting. Typically, you will get multiple tiny shot glass sized cups of various wines. This wine sampler is the perfect way to figure out what your favorite wine is, and to truly experience the winery itself. Pictured is my trip to the Lakehouse Inn and Winery in Geneva on Lake Erie in Ashtabula County.

3. Wine Parties: When you think you might have the hang of things, you can try throwing or going to a wine party. Look for more about this later in the week.

What I've found through my various winery visits throughout the state is that Ohio has surprisingly good wines! Most people are not aware of this little tidbit, but when you visit these wineries and see the rolling vineyards and breathtaking architecture you will be rather impressed. There is beauty, history, technique, science, and tons of fun put into every glass of wine. Wine Tasting is truly an OHventure worth taking!


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