Michigan’s Good News from MLive.com and MLiveMediaGroup.com

Category: Food and Drink

Wine Tasting! 5 Tips to Find Your New Favorite Vino

Traverse City is located right on the water, halfway between the North Pole and the equator, in an ideal region for growing wine grapes. So, it’s no wonder that the area is full of artisan vintners.

As a result, the Traverse Wine Coast attracts seasoned wine drinkers who know all about grape varietals, residual sugars and tannins. In fact, The Travel Channel named Traverse City one of the country’s New Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs.

But that doesn’t mean novice wine drinkers should feel intimidated when walking into one of the area’s 40 wineries. On the contrary, an upcoming monthlong celebration in Traverse City is the perfect chance to learn about the region’s wine.


The Traverse Wine Coast grows 55 percent of Michigan’s wine grapes and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.

The Traverse Wine Coast grows 55 percent of Michigan’s wine grapes and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.

Traverse City Uncorked runs throughout May with social wine tastings, lively winery events and discounted lodging packages. No matter how much or little you know about wine, the variety of events presents ample opportunity to do the most important thing you can do to learn more about wine: Taste it!

“Get to know what you like,” said Coen Saltes, general manager of a tasting room for Brengman Brothers, which has vineyards on the Leelanau Peninsula. “Taste wines you’re not familiar with. Taste wines you know you don’t like.”

Not sure where to start discovering your new favorite wine? Check out all the Traverse City Uncorked events here.

Lodging packages include a $30 winery gift certificate and a “Super Ticket” that you can redeem for one pour each, for two people, at every Traverse Wine Coast winery. While you’re in the area you can also enjoy the springtime majesty of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, the awe-inspiring Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the incredible beauty of cherry blossoms as they bloom in May.

5 Tips to Find Your New Favorite Vino

As you prepare to visit, take a look at these wine-tasting tips:

  • Look – Hold up your glass and check out the color and clarity of the wine. The wine’s hue or shade foreshadows its taste. A lighter-colored white wine might be more acidic and taste crisp and refreshing, for example, while a deeper, golden color hints at a richer flavor. (Pro tip: Hold the glass by the stem rather than gripping the bowl. The heat from your hands can alter the temperature and taste of the wine, Saltes said.)
  • Swirl – Shake your glass a bit to move the wine around and expose it to more oxygen. This coats the glass with the wine and releases its aromas, giving the wine stronger aromatics, Saltes said.
  • Smell – Bring the glass up to your nose for a sniff. Then, dip your nose in a little deeper and inhale. The wine’s aroma, or nose, is an integral part of the experience and can clue you in to how it will taste.
  • Drink – Take a sip, rolling the wine around in your mouth to taste the different notes of flavor. Be sure to ask your server questions: “Where is this juice coming from?” Saltes said. “That’s a huge question. Is this grown on-site or is it from outside of Michigan?”
  • Discuss – Whether a wine is good or bad is entirely up to your own opinion. And the people you’re tasting with might have an entirely different opinion! That’s okay. It’s part of the fun. When and where you’re tasting can have an impact, too. You might like a dry, white wine in the middle of a warm afternoon, for example, and prefer a heavy red wine in the evening. “Wine is so situational,” Saltes said. “It depends on occasion. It depends on mood.”

Traverse City Uncorked features a variety of events throughout May including social wine tastings, lively winery events and discounted lodging packages.

The Traverse Wine Coast produces 55 percent of the wine grapes in Michigan and is the fifth-largest wine-producing region in the country.  A big reason for that is the area’s ideal geography: the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are located at the same latitude as major wine regions in France and Italy. Plus, the presence of Lake Michigan creates the ultimate micro-climate for growing wine grapes.Each winery along the Traverse Wine Coast puts its own touch on the grapes that grow out of the region’s blessed soil. That’s why a chardonnay at one winery tastes different than a chardonnay at the winery down the road, for example. Even a wine of a particular vintage will taste different than one from the same winery that’s made with grapes from a different growing season.

The artisan wine of Traverse City truly gives you a taste of the vine in Michigan.

“You’re tasting authenticity,” Saltes said. “You’re tasting a family’s land. That’s a beautiful thing.”

What Michigan wine will you discover this spring?

 

Dining out experiences: Learn about Lansing restaurateurs’ view on food, life

It won’t take long after meeting Sam Short to realize that his effusive personality makes a stranger feel like a long-time friend in minutes.

And his Potent Potables restaurants – Punk Taco, Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, The Cosmos and The Creole – were created with the same spirit, providing an engaging look at food, people and the life around them.

Sam, who is one of three partners in the Lansing gathering spots with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper, recently sat down with MLive’s John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman to talk about what makes the restaurants hum, how they’ve connected with employees and made a difference in the lives of others.

“There’s a movement toward locally owned restaurants, but that only goes so far if you’re not doing something that sets you apart and makes an impact, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sam said off-camera.

“If I’m going out and spending my money at a restaurant, I’m going for an experience. It should be a bit nostalgic, fun-filled, a bit geeky. So, our focus is on delivering happiness. We just sell food. The thing that differentiates us is our people. That’s why we focus on them and helping them grow and give the community what it wants.”

The entrepreneurs have created establishments with a neighborhood vibe and a focus on chef-driven, fresh food. The teams at each restaurant curate menus to challenge their skills and extend the palate of guests. The parameters, Sam said, are: “We want (the chefs) to make it interesting.”

Everything at the restaurants is hand-made, Sam said. That includes dressings, cheeses, breads and more.

“We do it because we’re geeked about food,” he said. “To us, it’s important that the food doesn’t come out of a can or a box, that it’s not the same as you get everywhere else. We ask ourselves ‘how can we make this better,’ whether that’s a sausage that goes on a pizza or a tortilla for a taco.”

Sam and his partners want the food to stand-out in the same manner they seek to create a work environment that cultivates and incentivizes employees to be their best. They offer benefits, such as a wellness program, 401k match and flexible spending accounts, not often available in the food industry. There are also opportunities to reward and recognize fellow employees – with financial bonuses – by noting how they’ve pitched in to help their colleagues.

“We try to think as holistically as possible,” Sam said, adding they also have reciprocal discounts at a yoga studio and other local establishments. “We want to motivate and reward people. If you want to learn something and grow as a person, we’ll help you. We have kitchen managers that started as dishwashers, but they wanted to do more than that. That’s exciting, and we encourage that.

“The thing people need is a passion about food. That’s number one. We can teach you other things, but people need to be engaged and interested.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Sharing Michigan’s Best News for stronger communities. Brought to you by MLive.com and MLive Media Group.

Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 5/25/18) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 5/25/18).
© 2018 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.
Your California Privacy Rights.