Thursday, March 03, 2005

Chili Cook Off, Wine Tasting in Northeast Ohio

Pour out the wine without restraint or stay,
Pour not by cups, but by the bellyful,
Pour out to all that wull.
Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599)
Epithalamion, 250

The Ohio Wine Producers Association sponsored a Chili Cook Off Trail on Friday and Saturday at five northeast Ohio vineyards.

Biscotti Family Winery (Conneaut), Laurello Vineyards (Geneva), Tarsitano Winery (Conneaut), The Lakehouse Winery (Geneva-on-the-Lake), and Old Firehouse Winery (Geneva-on-the-Lake) all provided visitors with samples of wine and chili.

The Chili
We went for the chance to get away and enjoy the wine, the chili was just a good excuse. We found some good tasting chili and some, well, not so good.

Our final score card looked like this...
1. Tarsitano - The red chili was about what you would make at home with stewed beef in it. The bread bowl and broiled cheese was an awesome touch that we would have probably appreciated more if this hadn't been our first stop. They provided us with a bonus Southeast Asian soup that was great.

2. The Lakehouse Winery - It was a red chili with a "Tex-Mex" feel adding corn and some extra spice. The presentation was in glass bowls and if we hadn't arrived in the small tasting room as the same time as the other 100 people on the tour it would have probably been more enjoyable. The workers did a great job of trying to keep everyone happy.

3. Biscotti Family Winery - The chili was your basic chili. It was a good bowl of chili, but in a cook off, I guess I expect more. My wife liked this one, but the Lakehouse presentation gave them the nod over Biscotti.

4. Laurello Vineyards - This was our last stop and left a sour taste in my mouth, while the wife thought it was okay. They went with a vegitarian chili that lacked the depth of flavor and blended tastes that makes for great chilli.

5. Old Firehouse Winery - If I had been selecting on my own, this would have been No.1 on the list. But, since it was the only place she wouldn't eat the chili it has to fall to last place by default. Old Firehouse did a seafood white chili with scallops, fish, and shrimp. I thought the flavor was more like a New England chowder than a chili, but the creativity was awesome and I really like the flavor. Gretchen on the other hand...well...

The Wine
If Old Firehouse was last on the chili list it was definately tops on the wine side. We walked out with six bottles of their finest, and I'm already looking at ordering a case online after we ended up giving away most of the bottles to friends.

The only other bottle of wine we purchased was a summer blend at Tarsitano.

It was a great time and we've been exploring other opportunities available through the Ohio Wines.
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