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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

cleveland wine fest

Who knew that the biggest revelation from last night's opening night of the Cleveland Wine Festival would be BEER?
The event at Voinovich Park on the lake behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues today, Saturday June 27 until 8 p.m.
Marc Stroobandt, master beer sommelier, presided over hourly tastings of three Belgian beers - Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe- from a beer tent at a corner of the park property behind the wine tasting booths. The sampling was aimed at proving to folks how good these beers can be with food. And, in my opinion, Belgium is one of the world's greatest food countries, so these brewers should certainly know.
These Belgian beers are not bound by the same beer laws that affect German beers, he told us. "Pour your beer straight into the glass so you have some foam," he said. "When you sip through the foam you can taste the hops which are concentrated there." Hoegaarden adds coriander and orange zest to its beer for balance. Neither taste can really be distinguished in the beer although it makes for a great food beer. "Try it with Thai food or hummus," Stroobandt said. Leffe, which has clove overtones in its taste, doesn't really have clove added to it he said. But its sweetness makes it absolutely wonderful with chocolate. Chocolate samples from Belgium were passed out so tasters could discover that for themselves.
As far as the Wine Festival itself goes, there weren't as many food booths and demonstrations as in other years and the few foods offered sold for about $5. Plenty of tables on the park's grassy area though, allowed tasters to sit down as they enjoyed their nibbles in the late day sunshine.

Vendors had plenty of things to attract tasters, who were limited to 10 tastes by the tickets they held. California's Barefoot Wines passed out temporary tattoos and bottle openers. Check out this cheeky young guy tasting bubbly and learn about the moderately priced wines at

Although I understand two percent of the wine bottled becomes "corky" from flaws in the cork, so I've begun to accept screwtop wine bottles instead of always insisting on corks. But I've remained a bit of a wine snob when it comes to drinking wines from plastic bags. But we tasted some really acceptable Black Box wines which they "bottle" the equivalent of four bottles of wine in plastic bags bags with spouts on them. They sell for $24.95, a real break for wine drinkers in this economy. Here Patrick Byrne is filling glasses from a plastic Black Box bag.


Anonymous TexasJess said...

I discovered Black Box wine last summer when my family and I went to a national park in Texas for a concert that would not let me bring in glass (something about safety...)...I was desperate for wine so I closed my eyes and reached out for the Black Box on the shelf....WOW!

I'm a wine snob myself and picky, picky, PICKY when it comes to wine...

Definitely the surprise hit of the summer!

July 14, 2009 at 8:13 AM 

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