The 53rd Annual National Wine Week, sponsored by the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, is celebrated from September 16 through September 20. Of course, because it's an SWRG event, it tends to take place exclusively at Smith & Wollensky restaurants across the country, but we don't really like the idea of letting one company monopolize our vinous celebrations.
To help you spread your wine love around Houston, we've compiled a list of the many wine-related events going on this week, both at Smith & Wollensky and elsewhere. Unfortunately, we haven't heard of any upcoming grape stomps (yet), but these pairings, tastings and educational opportunities ought to quench your thirst for wine wisdom.
Tuesday, September 17
Rioja Day @ Smith & Wollensky Celebrate everything wonderful about the Spanish wine with a three-course Rioja wine-pairing dinner on Tuesday evening. The menu will include littleneck clams, Spanish lamb stew and filet mignon, each paired with a different wine. Experts will be on hand to teach diners about the history of the Rioja region and what makes the wines there different. Tickets are $68 per person; call the restaurant for reservations .
La Vie en Rose: An evening with Rosé Wines @ Bistro Provence French Country Wines is joining with Bistro Provence to present a five-course meal paired with various rosés to teach diners that pink wine is definitely not for sissies. The menu consists of grilled almonds and tomato tapenade; watercress gazpacho; shrimp in brick with curcumin sauce and eggplant caviar; seared red mullet fillet with fleur de sel and basil; and finally, chocolate fondant. The dinner, which begins at 7 p.m., is $70 per person plus tax and gratuity. A $35 deposit via Paypal is required to secure a reservation.
Wednesday, September 18
New Vino Day @ Smith & Wollensky This tasting is for folks excited about new wine and up-and-coming producers. The tasting is sponsored by Ferrari-Carano, but there will be wines from nine other producers as well. Smith & Wollensky hopes you'll find a new favorite among the samples from Rotari, Nederburg, La Crema, Emiliana, Chalone, Brancaia, Casa Ferreirinha, Browne Family and Ridge, which will be pouring whites, reds and rosés. For tickets, call Smith & Wollensky.
Wines of Spain Class @ The Tasting Room - Uptown Park Wine sales manager Jason McCain will lead a class and tasting that focuses on Wines of Spain. Chef Jonathan LeBlanc will provide food to munch on while you learn about the wine-producing regions of Spain. The event begins at from 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, and can be purchased at The Tasting Room.
Bandol Wines Provençal Wine Dinner @ Ibiza Amine Matta of Bandol Wines will present a tasting dinner at Ibiza at 6:30 p.m. Wines from the Bandol region of France aren't readily available in the U.S., so Matta and some friends got together to distribute them in Houston. The tasting dinner will include a sparkling wine, a white wine, a still rose and a few reds, including the highlighted wine of the event, a 1988 Domaine Souviou. After the dinner, there will be less than a case of this wine left in the world. Including an amuse bouche, the dinner will have six courses and wine pairings. A few tickets remain, so call Ibiza to reserve a spot.
Thursday, September 19
South Africa Day @ Smith & Wollensky Celebrate a relatively new wine-growing region with a taste of South African wines presented by Wines of South Africa, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the export of the country's wine. On the menu are wines from the following producers: Graham Beck, Brampton, Cape Point, Secateur, Badenhorst, Warwick, Rustenberg, Glenelly and Black Pearl. To reserve a spot at the tasting, call Smith & Wollensky.
The Wines of Bodegas Mauro @ El Meson Bodegas Mauro is a producer in Spain's Ribera Del Duero wine region with about 100 acres of vineyards, growing primarily Tempranillo, Syrah and a bit of Garnacha. At the tasting, at El Meson, guests will sample Mauro Tempranillo and Syrah blends, as well as the Vendimia Seleccionada from 2005. Special guest Matthew Roberts, export manager for Bodegas Mauro, will be at the event to discuss the wines and the Ribera Del Duero region.
Leibman's Walk Around Wine Tasting @ Leibman's The folks at Leibman's recently returned from a trip to Portugal, where they were introduced to some of the best in Spanish and Portuguese wines. On Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., they'll be sharing these wines with you at a tasting of wines from the Douro and Alentejo growing regions of Portugal and some Spanish Rioja. It's a casual event with appetizers, so come ready to mingle. Admission is $21 per person, and tickets can be purchased at Leibman's or by calling 281-493-9463 .
Amarone Tasting Dinner @ Sorrento Tim Ryan of Banfi Wines will host a tasting dinner on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. featuring Amarone, a rich, dry Italian red wine. The menu, available to view online, features six courses and wine pairings (not all of which will be Amarone). Tickets are $95 per person and can be reserved by calling Sorrento at 713-527-0609.
Friday, September 20
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Undiscovered Gems Day @ Smith & Wollensky Smith & Wollensky wants to help you find a new favorite varietal on Friday with tastings of wines notable for both quality and value. The restaurant will be pouring a 2012 Gérard Bertrand Naturae Merlot, which is free of any added sulphur or other additives, as well as nine other wallet-friendly wines. Call Smith & Wollensky for reservations.
Best Cellars Celebrity Dinner @ River Oaks Country Club The T.J. Martell Foundation presents a wine dinner to benefit the Physician-Scientist Program at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center on Friday evening at 6:30. Because it's a benefit dinner, tickets are a little pricey -- $750 per individual. The dinner will feature some of Houston's top wine collectors, who will be sharing wine from their personal cellars. Guest chefs Robert Del Grande of RDG+Bar Annie and Mark Cox of Mark's American Cuisine will prepare a four-course meal to pair with the wines. Go online to purchase a ticket.
Saturday, September 21
Wine & Music Fest 2013 @ Historic Downtown Montgomery, Texas Though National Wine Week officially ends on September 20, the city of Montgomery's yearly wine and music festival is a fun way to mark the weeklong celebration of all things vino. The festival will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and will feature 16 Texas wineries. The wine tent will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free, but $20 online or $25 at the gate will get you five tastings and a souvenir wine glass. Individual tastes can also be purchased for $1 each. There will be cooking demonstrations as well, but to us, this event is all about the wine!