Solera's expanded wine list features Spain's best

Categories: Restaurants, Wine

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Solera's expanded wine list features 85 bottles from Spain
I've finally stumped Jay Viskocil. For the last hour, Solera's general manager and beverage aficionado has been giving me a tour through the restaurant's expanded wine list, which now boasts 85 bottles from over 20 regions. As I've pelted him with questions about everything from Rioja to Rueda to Ribera del Duero, he's volleyed everything back.

Until now.

Dressed in a tailored dark jacket, he looks appropriately mid-day casual. And as the gray winter light filters through the floor-to-ceiling windows at his back, he thoughtfully taps his fingers on the copper tabletop between us.

"It's so hard to choose..." he muses. And then finally, looks over and gives me a smirk:

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Sea Change's new Blind Tasting offers mystery in a glass

Categories: Restaurants, Wine

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Sea Change Raw Bar
Holly Carson grabs a clean white towel and nestles an oyster inside. With a few firm flicks of the knife, crack!, she's in. And I bet she could do the next one with her eyes closed.

Since Sea Change opened in 2009, Carson (chef at the raw bar) has probably shucked thousands of oysters--and I've just ordered a dozen more. She neatly arranges the half-shells on a bed of crushed ice. And since I'm sampling three different varieties, she adds a lemon wedge to signal where one ends and another begins.

As she places the plate in front of me, wine director Bill Summerville grabs the seat to my left. He'll be my personal guide this evening, talking me through the finer points of wine and oyster pairings--which is a very good thing, because I've just been poured three glasses of white. And I have no clue what they are.

Which is exactly how this is supposed to work.

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Alexis Bailly Vineyard lines up stellar cellar tastings for late fall

Categories: Wine, Wine Events

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Sam Haislet
Nan Bailly of Alexis Bailly Vineyard, with Leon, the original Winery Dog
The harvest is in at Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings, and word is that it was a very good year. Summer's rain + sun + temperature yielded a bumper crop of grapes at Minnesota's oldest winery. To celebrate the harvest and taste the wine, the winemakers have come up with a creative slate of wine-centric fun for November and December.

Mark your calendars for the always popular Alexis Bailly Vineyard events:

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I Nonni wine tasting October 30

I Nonni's wine shop and restaurant offer elite Italian bottlings
I Nonni Osteria in Lilydale is set to host its annual wine tasting, showcasing the very finest Italian wine available in our market, some of it only available at I Nonni.

The tasting will take place Sunday, October 30, from 3 to 6 p.m., featuring about 100 wines, with significant discounts for same-day orders. Here are details on how to get in on the action.

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St. Croix Vineyards hosts VIP wine tasting and tour

Categories: Wine

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Joy Summers
Of raisins and wine,a tale of a local vineyard
​Turning down the winding road that leads to St. Croix Vineyards, just outside of Stillwater, the afternoon sun basks the boughs of the apple trees and grapevines. A light afternoon breeze catches the branches, which seem to bow to acknowledge our arrival. The grounds, which share space with the Aamodt orchard, are lightly populated. The full fall rush of apple pickers has yet to descend.

Owners Paul Quast and Peter Hemstad greet us at the door.  The room smells of fresh-cut wood from the new deck just added to the front of the building. The room is full of people taking advantage of the $5 wine tasting that the vineyard offers. We've arrived for a VIP tour of the vineyard as well as a full tasting. 

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Solo Vino hosts rosé tent tasting

Categories: Wine

​St. Paul's Solo Vino wine store on Selby will be hosting its third annual rosé tent tasting, come rain or shine, on Sunday May 15. Hopefully, at this point there will be some consistent sun to pair with the crisp, tart, and refreshing flavors of beautifully crafted wines from all over the world. Wine aficianados declare rosé to be where it's at for summer refreshment and an easy transition for those who prefer red to white. 

Tickets are available for $30. The event begins at 2 p.m. in the Solo Vino parking lot off Selby Avenue.

Solo Vino
517 Selby Ave, St. Paul
Solo Vino website

Expensive wine indistinguishable from the cheap stuff

Categories: Wine

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Which of these wines costs more? Your taste buds have no idea.
The case for boxed wine just got stronger. In a blind taste test at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, 578 volunteers tasted wines ranging from 3.49 British pounds (or about $5.78 in American dollars) per bottle to £29.99 (just shy of $50). They were told that they were drinking one cheap wine, classified as being under £5 per bottle, and one expensive wine that cost £10 or more, and asked to identify which was which. Read on to see how they fared.

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Sommelier Leslee Miller picks great holiday wines

Categories: Wine
Courtesy of Amusée
Leslee Miller gives us her picks.
It's holiday time, and we're sure you've bought all your gifts and are getting ready for an onslaught of family and friends. You've got the turkey ordered, your sides planned, and even that amazing dessert is partially completed and tucked in your freezer. It's all done, right? Oh, rats--you haven't picked up any wine yet. What to get to please all the relatives?

For our holiday table, we turned to the expertise of Leslee Miller, a certified sommelier and the proprietor of the wine consulting business Amusée. With her trademark mixture of knowledge and humor, she writes, educates, and plans wine events. She learned her trade in the Pacific Northwest and, lucky for us, brought it home to the Midwest (we love her blog too).

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Surdyk's Flights' CEO talks tethered knives, celebs and Opus One

Categories: News, Wine
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photo by Sara Rice
The wall of wine greets you.
Taylor Surdyk is the busy great-grandson of the guy who started the family's eponymous store in NE Minneapolis. He's also the CEO and mixologist of Surdyk's Flights, which opened on July 24 in the MSP airport. It's a wine store and bar that serves light, fresh fare for both dine-in and in-flight enjoyment. Located in the Main Terminal just beyond security, the shop carries over 100 varieties of wine and gourmet foods, while the bar offers wine flights, premium beers, and cocktails, plus breakfast and small plates. According to Surdyk, the adjustment to an airport shop has been challenging but successful.

And more importantly, the staff has seen some celebs and sold some expensive bottles. Read on to get the goods on Surdyk's Flights' first three months.

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It's Beaujolais nouveau season! Here are 2 ways to celebrate

Categories: Wine

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The first wine of 2010
We don't have a lot of wine vineyards in Minnesota, but there's still plenty of reason to celebrate another grape harvest by opening a bottle of French Beaujolais nouveau. The first bottles of this year's vintage--meant to be drunk when it's barely off the vine--are officially introduced on the third Thursday in November. You can toast this year's Beaujolais Nouveau Day in style at two very French Twin Cities restaurants. Find out where on the following page--along with information on how you can be the first to know about events like these by signing up for City Pages' FREE dining newsletter.

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