By Tamra Bolton
It happens every year…white wines start showing up at outdoor gatherings, weddings and weekend parties and every year I tell my red-loving, prejudice self that I need to expand my palate and try a few whites…but I always talk myself out of it.
I finally had to face my “dislike” of white wines when I visited Ann Arbor, Michigan. Even I was surprised at what I discovered…
Ann Arbor is one of America’s Best Main Street cities according to Fodor’s Travel and I certainly agree. After spending the better part of a week exploring the tree-lined sidewalks overflowing with outdoor seating, gorgeous flowers and some of the best wine stops in the country, I knew this would also be the best place to overcome my “fright of white”. My wine prejudice was challenged when I set foot in John Jonna’s establishment Vinology. The gorgeous interior with its lofty tin ceilings and exposed antique brick walls was a perfect backdrop to what OpenTable.com calls one of the “Top 100 Wine Lists”. Welcoming me as one of the guests at the wine/food pairing, John waved me to one of the stools, inviting me to join the other patrons. His chef, Jim Leonardo, had created a delicious menu, he explained. As John began to pour the wines, telling us what to look for in the food/wine pairings, I was strangely relieved to see that he had chosen rosé for the evening event. I guess it was less intimidating than the pale whites I had anticipated, whatever the reason; I began to relax and enjoy myself. What I liked best about John’s remarks is that he made everything simple…there were no right or wrong choices; he assured us, only individual likes and dislikes. His laid back approach gave me confidence and even though I felt like a traitor to my beloved reds, I was determined to open myself to this new experience.
John and his daughter Kristin are no strangers to the wine business. The Jonna family began investing in fine wines in the early 1970’s and founded the Merchant of Vino, which became a premier gourmet wine and food chain in the U.S.. Today, John and Kristin operate Vinology in Ann Arbor and offer 100 wines by the bottle and 50 by the glass, giving even the most discerning connoisseur a plethora of choices. I was impressed by the passion John displayed for his current venture and it made me eager to try the wines he was describing.
The first course was duck dumplings and tea broth, beautifully presented and as delicious as it looked. We were to try to choose the most appropriate rosé for the dish, again, John assured us, it is personal preference. He did however, give us his opinion and I breathed a sigh of relief when I had chosen the same one. I don’t know why, I guess everyone likes validation. Next, we were given a Michigan Farm Platter with lettuce, morel mushrooms, honey and chive carrots, roasted onions, and asparagus with portabella mushroom demi-glaze. It was marvelous! For dessert, it was strawberry shortcake with strawberry hibiscus coulis, white chocolate mousse and sponge cake…I was in heaven. The rosés were better than I’d imagined and I was surprised that they came from such diverse places as New Zealand, California and France. It was an eye-opening evening for me, one I won’t soon forget.
Now, I think I have enough courage to face a true white…maybe I’ll spring for one of the choice whites from WillaKenzie Estate Winery in Oregon?
The moral of this tale is: Never be afraid to try a new/different wine, even if you think you won’t like it. You’ll never know unless you open the bottle!
Cheers and have fun exploring!