Tastings - A Wine Experience, is located at the Conrad hotel in downtown Indianapolis (yes, to all of you who love hotels and didn't know, Indy has a Conrad. Swanky right? I know this.) This bar and restaurant is casual but with a refined twist. It is not your normal sit at the bar and order a glass of wine place (you can definitely do this, but the minute you walk in, you know there is another option.)
If you are a lover of wines, this is the place for you.
There are stations where you can receive samples of wine, all ranging in cost. All you do is slide your Tastings card (which you added money to the minute you walked in the door) into the slot, pick your wine and press a button. Really, it's that easy. You have to go yourself to experience it.
As great as Tastings is, I must digress as I am here to tell you about my recent Shasta View Vineyards tasting with hubs, RN, JN and a few others. Shasta View Vineyard, located in Northern California, is owned by Roger and Gail Rogers (yes, his name is Roger Rogers.) The two proprietors joined us for the evening, educating us through each glass of vino. If you ever get the chance to stop by their Vineyard, I encourage you to do so. Not only will you enjoy some great wine, but you'll meet a great couple too.
Mini Antipasti - chef Steven Unrue started us off with a pleasant antipasti. The thinly-sliced speck had a great smokey flavor to it. The pickled green bean was "the best pickled green bean I have ever had" accordingly to the hubs. The watermelon was so fresh, and with a drizzle of pomegranate vinaigrette and sprinkle of feta cheese, the combination worked perfectly with the Rose wine.
Wine Selection - Shasta View Tempranillo RoseI'm not a huge fan of rose wines, but I have now realized it is because I'm always served sweet rose wines. This wine had a surprisingly dry finish, with complex fruit flavors. It was absolutely lovely and sat well for a first course beverage. Plus, the bottle was just gorgeous. Gail Rogers hand dips all of the bottles in wax, in her own crockpot in the kitchen! That just made me appreciate the beauty of the bottle that much more.
Shrimp & Apricot - this was my fave course of the night. Chef Unrue can fry shrimp perfectly without it being greasy or oily. The apricot was fantastic as well, perfect sweetness to the creamy chili-tarragon aioli that it was resting on. I seriously could have licked that off my plate. The spice was perfectly balanced by the creamy texture. Plus, tarragon is always pleasant when it is kicked up a notch.
Wine Selection - Shasta View Chardonnay
I enjoy chardonnay and this one was no different. It had a great light finish, very "fruit forward" in a delightful way.
Eggplant Putanesca - I love polenta. It was perfectly crisped without drying out. And you could tell that Chef Unrue grated SO much asiago on the roasted eggplant. Everything was perfectly seasoned with the putanesca - a great Italian bite for the wine it was paired.
Wine Selection - Shasta View Cabernet Sauvignon
The cab sauvignon was also delish, rich in color with an intense fruity aroma. It wasn't a straight forward cab sauv, but had layers of fruit that moved throughout your mouth.
Braciole - My favorite part of this dish was the white bean puree. It was definitely rich and may have even been a bit heavy to me, but the tasting was the perfect serving size to balance that. The beef had been rolled with Parmesan breadcrumbs and fennel (which I normally think is overwhelming - but not in this case!) and slowly braised. It was tender, and was perfect for me to use to scoop up that white bean puree.
Wine Selection - Shasta View Zinfandel
Seemed to be a basic zin with a spicy finish. A deep color, and once again, more fruity than I would have thought. There was definitely a theme with the fruit in all of the wines, leaving all of them all to be surprisingly refreshing.
Coffee Cake with Berries - Coffee cake, actually made with coffee! The chocolate cake was soft and the perfect sponge for the blueberry panna cotta. I did receive an end piece which was slightly over done, but that did not stop me from sopping up the balsamic whipped cream. Hubs wanted another piece and was eying up the tray on the counter. Oh so good - I want this again (hint hint Steven!)
Wine Selection - Shasta View 'Armonia Rossa' Blended Red
I have to admit, I was so excited for the coffee cake, I didn't concentrate very much on the wine. But it must have been great with the dessert, or I wouldn't have drank them together!
As the night ended, hubs and I even ended up buying a bottle for hubs and I to share of the Rose - R.Roger's signed it too. It made the packaging that much better!
Chef Steven Unrue's presentation and culinary skills were a highlight of the evening. I can only imagine these skills stem from his passion for food. You could see his enthusiasm and knowledge spilling from every pore as he described what I was about to devour. His excitement was infectious as he shared his delectable creations with the lucky guests who were licking their plates (okay, not literally, but I know I wanted to) for more.
As a meeting & event planner, I love the Conrad for the wonderful service. And it is always great to see impeccable service spill into the restaurants on property - specifically Tastings. Of course the Chef and vineyard proprietors were phenomenal, but so were the servers and kitchen staff who were assisting.
Successful evening? Absolutely, can't wait to go to another event! They are on Wednesday's, two seatings (6pm and 8pm.) Be sure to make your reservation, you don't want to miss out. Maybe I'll even see you there!