Houston Restaurant Weeks just came to a close, but there's another foodie event, more specifically, a wine event, happening in our city in less than two weeks. Taste Around Town Houston is similar to restaurant weeks, except participating restaurants will feature wine specials, such as flights and dinner pairings. The two-week event lasts from September 15 until September 28; all of the participating restaurants will feature wines from Chateau Montelena, Penfolds and selections from France.
Taste Around Town is hosted by Bottlenotes, the same company that brought 80 Sips Around the World to Houston, and this will be the first time Bottlenotes hosts Taste Around Town in our city.
"It's intended to drive awareness and traffic to participating restaurants while offering new and existing customers a chance to discover new wines," Devin Parr, senior program manager at Bottlenotes, says. "It's an exciting experience for people who may not have visited a particular restaurant in a given market and it's also a way for current customers of a particular restaurant to experience new wines they might not have tasted before, or regions that they might not have explored before. It's a wine experience that's very similar to restaurant week, we're just focusing on wine."
"Restaurants are tasked with creating a compelling menu," Parr says. "We've seen restaurants do 'create your own flight,' pairing menus, prix fixe menus featuring courses that are paired with the wines -- they really have the creativity and freedom to create these menus, highlighting the wines and pairing them with food or having them stand alone. Then they display these menus or tuck them in with their regular menus."
Reservations can be made by visiting the Taste Around Town Houston website. Each of the participating restaurants have a "book it" link where you can make reservations through Open Table, the reservation partner for the event.
Ouisie's Table will offer a $60 three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings. Some of the items featured on the menu will include quail, a strawberry salad and antelope loin.
Cru Wine Bar will serve $14 wine flights as well as a $36 prix fixe menu featuring braised short ribs and molten chocolate cake, with wine pairings.
Max's Wine Dive will offer $15 wine flights and a prix fixe menu include tasting of three small bites, such as truffle fries, bison sliders and oysters, paired with a tasting of three wines.
The Bird & The Bear Bistro will offer a three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings for $45; the menu features items such as sweetbreads, halibut and berry bread pudding.
You certainly do not have to be a wine expert to participate or enjoy this two-week event. Even if you have never explored wines beyond a Pinot Noir or Moscato, Taste Around Town Houston will be an excellent way to expand your palate for both food and wine.
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"We don't intend any of the wines to be over the top or very austere and tough for people to get into. I think the goal of this program is to make wine a little more accessible or encourage maybe a timid wine drinker who would stick to what they would normally drink, you know a Cab or a Merlot every night," Parr says. "We across the board don't see these menus priced in a prohibitive way. For a, [say] $16 flight [of] three 3-ounce pours, I feel that that in general isn't intimidating; it's an easy way to taste three wines and experience other regions or producers that they might not have otherwise."
Get a sneak peak at Taste Around Town Houston by attending the preview event on Monday, September 8, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., at Cru Wine Bar, located at 2800 Kirby. Tickets cost $50 and will give guests the chance to sip on some of the wines being featured throughout the next two weeks. Winery representatives will be in attendance so you can pick their brains about wines and the wine industry. Cru will provide an assortment of food and there will be an open wine bar.
Bottlenotes also wants to give our readers 50 percent off the preview event tickets if purchased using the discounted code, EOW50. Follow this link to purchase your half-priced ticket to the preview event.
During the two weeks of Taste Around Town Houston, you can try to win an iPad by participating in the social media sweepstakes. Simply post a photograph about your experience, i.e. a picture of the wine, you with your favorite wine or at a restaurant, and tag it with the hashtag, #tastearoundtown. Each post counts, so the more you post, the higher your chance is to win the iPad.