Dining Deals

The Generous Pour Wine Event at Capital Grille

To truly understand wine, its complexity, what distinguishes a good wine from bad one, and how it should pair with food, takes years of study. That's why there are only 171 Master Sommeliers in the world, and to gain access to one, even for short period of time, one would typically have to invest much more than $25.

During Capital Grille's third annual Generous Pour Event, however, $25 is all you'll have to spend to taste up to nine wines hand selected by George Miliotes, Master Sommelier for Capital Grille.

The "Generous Pour" is basically a bottomless glass event. You can pick and choose the wines you want to taste yourself, have the server pair the wines with what you're eating, or taste each of the nine wines in the lineup for the price of $25. No matter how much you drink or how many of the nine wines you taste, it's just $25 per person.

Miliotes was available via live webcam to explain his selections during a media tasting event I attended last Monday evening. Viewers were able to Tweet questions to him directly to @TheWineExpert with hashtag #tcgpour11, which he answered live. The selections he had chosen were:

  1. Marquis de la Tour, Cremant de Loire Brut, France, a sparkling wine.
  2. La Cana Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain 2010
  3. Chateau St. Jean, Belle Terre, Sonoma, CA 2008
  4. Freemark Abbey, Cabernet Bosché, Rutherford, 2003 (direct from the winery)
  5. Chalk Hill Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma 2006
  6. Byron Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 2009
  7. Conte Brandolini, Vistorta Merlot, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 2006
  8. Tarima Hill, Monastrell, Alicante, Spain 2009 (exclusive at Capital Grille thru August)
  9. RL Buller The Portly Gentleman, Australia, Port
As he described his selections, the most salient point he made was this: To buy all nine bottles of wines, one would have to spend approximately $750. If that isn't something that makes you want to make your reservation today, let me tell you a bit about the tasting dinner.

Before the hors d'oevres arrived, we received a generous pour of the Marquis de la Tour sparkling wine in a lovely glass flute. Miliotes' tasting notes were available to review and his description of "pale gold color with fine bubbles, featuring delicate, floral aromas and a crisp, melon finish" was exactly what I experienced. The bubbly liquid washed down well with appetizers of smoked salmon on onion pita crisps, fresh tomato and mozzarella crostini, and wild mushroom and boursin crostini.

A very light white wine, the La Cana Albariño was extremely easy to drink by itself, while the "scent of minerals, lemon, and summer flowers...and rich texture, vibrant acidity and lengthy refreshing finish" described by Miliotes paired well with prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and fried calamari.

Susan, our server, who is also a corporate trainer who trains all the serving staff, told us that the Capital Grille team "wines and dines" their patrons, and on this night, we were certainly wined and dined.

Our entree, a cedar plank salmon with tomato fennel relish, was paired with the Byron Pinot Noir or the Chateau St. Jean, and each of the wine tastings by themselves were markedly better when paired with food.

I'm a huge fan of California cabernet sauvignons, so I stuck with the Chalk Hill Cab and the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Boche, which both paired wonderfully with my Kona crusted, dry-age bone-in sirloin with shallot butter. In particular, the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Boche was smooth and rich, the 2003 vintage remarkable for its complexity and strong tannins. Miliotes described it as "supple and balanced yet rich and intense." My descriptive ability for wine is much more limited, but suffice it to say that I loved it.

I often get excited about food, but on this occasion, I was so excited about the wines that before we'd left that evening, we'd already made reservations to return that weekend with friends.

We returned that same Friday to get the "real" wine and dine experience, which turned out to be just as decadent and over-the-top as my media tasting. It was a sophisticated sort of evening, and our conversation could have been part of a script from the movie Sideways. My girlfriend, who loves white Sancerre, enjoyed the sparkling wine, the Albarino and the Chardonnay with her lobster. Her husband preferred the Freemark Abbey over the Chalk Hill with his tenderloin. I enjoyed, once again, the smooth plumminess of the Freemark Abbey with my Delmonico (ribeye) steak, while my other friend preferred the Merlot with his lamb chops.

The Generous Pour Event is taking place from now until September 4, 2011. That means that it will also run the entire duration of Houston Restaurant Week, which is an amazing deal on top of another amazing deal. Reservations book up early, so get yours now while you can.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham