Friday, December 18, 2009

Stealing A Taste of Wine, and Flint

By Emma Davis

Flint, Mich. - 501 Bar and Grill is hosting a monthly wine tasting event called Wine Thieves. The event costs $25 and is from 3 – 6 pm on the fourth Sunday of every month. 501 Chef Luis Fernandes selects the wine and prepares the food menu.

Around 25 people were in attendance on Nov 22. The crowd mixed and mingled in the 501 conference room as servers opened bottles of wine and filled the buffet table. 

“I was here for the first one last month,” said Mark Miltich, Swartz Creek resident, “and it’s a great little crowd. Luis’s food is always great.”

Five wines were available for tasting from Bogle VineyardsThey included Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Old Vine Zinfandel.

"It's a nice activity on a Sunday afternoon," said Ron Krueger, Food Writer for The Flint Journal. "The food is really good, the wines are quite nice, it's enjoyable." 

When it comes to conducting the wine tasting, Fernandes says he likes to do his "a little different" than usual. 

"I don't stand there and explain the wine...they choose their own," said Fernandes. "They can sit back and enjoy each other's company, and they can talk about things other someone lecturing them on wine."

Amongst the food choices were samplings like Lobster Quesadillas, Shrimp Dumplings and Grilled Beef Tenderloin Tips. There were also a variety of assorted cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, including green beans and white asparagus. 

"I always wanna do cheeses, I always wanna do vegetables, I always wanna do fruit," said Chef Fernandes, who has been cooking in the area since 1987 and is originally from Macau, China. "I kind of float different things out here for people to try." 

Some of the foods are also available o501's restaurant menu, including Lamb Chops, the different cheeses and spreads, and the shrimp dumplings and desserts.

"I don't do food pairings," said Fernandes. "Some places do the food pairing, but I like them to just sit back and relax."

"There's lots of variety, wonderful lamb rib chops - that's the highlight for me and my girlfriend," said Krueger. "The only thing so far that I thought didn't work with the wine was a little syrup that was on the Ahi Tuna that was spicy and it clashed with the wine."

"There's things [being served] that are spicier to be paired," said Fernandes, "But I believe in mixing the spicy things with things that will cool it the cucumber sauce." 

Krueger, who has been writing for The Flint Journal almost 20 years, says it is a "pet peeve" of his when restaurants don't serve "wine friendly foods."

"It probably has something to do with the culture," said Krueger, "Where even the people in the restaurant business don't understand that wine should be considered food."

Whether they consider wine to be food or not, 501 isn't the first restaurant to be host to the Wine Thieves. The group was originally started over 20 years ago and was a university club called The Wine Club. After the club faded, the members started the Wine Thieves at Chef Fernades's former restaurant, Broadstreet Restaurant in Linden.

Now the group is hoping that they've found a new place to host their wine tasting events.

"First it was word of mouth, and Luis's good food and seeing if we can revitalize a group of friends," said Miltich about choosing 501. 

A wine thief is someone who goes into a barrel of wine and uses a small tube to siphon a small amount of wine to taste it, according to Miltich. 

"That's what the wine makers do to sample the barrels and then determine when they're ready to bottle, so we're here sampling the bottles," said Miltich. 

1 comment:

  1. The only problem with 501 is the high noise level. Most new restaurants are designed with hard surfaces. This discourages people from spending too long a their table. The high noise level increases the turnover in the course of an evening. The food is great though.