Wine dinners — multi-course meals paired with wines chosen by experts — are nothing new, but they seem to be gaining in popularity at Metro Detroit restaurants.
The summer terrace tastings at the Rattlesnake Club take place most Thursdays in the summer (the next one is July 16) and feature wines chosen by the restaurant's sommelier, Maria Papp.
Chef Chris Franz and chef de cuisine Jeff Lanctot prepare small plates to go with the wines, usually cheese, a few meat dishes and end the event with something sweet.
Over at Cafe Muse, beverage director Lindsay Martinik attributes the popularity of wine dinners to the growing foodie culture.
"People are becoming more knowledgeable about food and wine and they enjoy having someone who is even more knowledgeable put it together for them," she says.
While many wine dinners are themed (featuring wines from a certain region, or all sweet wines, etc.), most are a great way to try a variety of wines at a price point that's lower than if you were to order five or six different glasses of wine at dinner. The pours at wine dinners are usually smaller than the standard five or six ounces, but not always.
Martinik started hosting monthly wine dinners at Cafe Muse in Royal Oak about a year and half ago. She says her goal is to present a meal with wines that are approachable and affordable.
On Tuesday, Cafe Muse hosts a Bastille Day wine dinner with special guests chef Nick Janutol from Forest Grill and Michelle DeHayes from A.H.D. Vintners. One example of the five-course pairing is lamb with spring vegetables complemented by a 2012 Crozes-Hermitage from Equis Domaine des Lises.
Reservations required or strongly suggested for all events.
Around the World Tour and Taste at Big Rock Chophouse: Helen McCarthy from Thorn-Clarke Winemaker and master sommelier Robert Jones present a selection of wines paired with appetizers. 6-8 tonight. $25, all inclusive. 245 S. Elton, Birmingham. (248) 647-7774.
Passport to Wine at Andimao Restaurants: A four-course meal paired with wines from Argentina. Main courses are grilled swordfish and gnocchi. $59.95, all inclusive.
¦7 tonight at 38703 W. Seven Mile, Livonia. (734) 953-3200.
¦7 p.m. July 16 at 20903 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods. (313) 886-9933.
¦7 p.m. July 23 at 14425 Lakeside Circle, Sterling Heights. (586) 532-8800.
Bastille Day Wine Dinner at Cafe Muse: This five-course dinner features wines from A.H.D. Vintners from Warren and food prepared by Nick Janutol from Forest Grill and Cafe Muse's chef de cuisine Ricky McCormick. 6:30 p.m. Tues. reception, 7 p.m. dinner. $65. 418 S. Washington, Royal Oak. (248) 544-4749.
Rattlesnake Garden Terrace Wine Tastings: Most Thursdays in the summer this fine dining destination hosts an outdoor wine tasting event with small plates. 6 p.m. July 16, 23 and 30 and Aug. 6, 13 and 20. $45 plus tax and tip. 300 River Place Drive, Detroit. (313) 567-4400.
Pollination Party on the Patio at Big Rock Chop House: To celebrate the restaurant's new honey bees, Big Rock is hosting a wine tasting with appetizers on the patio. 6-8 p.m. July 21. $25, all inclusive. 245 S. Elton, Birmingham. (248) 647-7774.
Wines dinner at Vinotecca: Executive chef Robert Young pairs wine from France's Loire Valley with five plates. Bottles of wine are available to purchase at a discount. 6:30-9 p.m. July 22. $50 all inclusive. 417 S. Main, Royal Oak. (248) 544-6257.
Vegetarian Wine Dinner at Cork Wine Pub: Seven courses of meatless dishes are paired with a variety of wines and other beverages including Bellula Brut Sparkling, Bordatto Basandere Cider and Birichino Pinot Noir. 7 p.m. July 22. $75 plus tax and tip. 23810 Woodward, Pleasant Ridge. (248) 544-2675.
Patio Wine Series at Rugby Grille at the Townsend Hotel: Sample wines that go with summer barbeques. Wine expert Nidal Daher will be on hand to talk about the products, and the event also includes light appetizers. 5-7 p.m. July 23. $25 plus tax and tip. 100 Townsend, Birmingham. (248) 642-5999.
Somm Slam at Bacco Ristorante: Two wine experts — Mindy Lopus and Rachel Van Til — go head to head pairing wines for the four dishes prepared by chef James Rigato (the Root, Mabel Gray). One sommelier will be named the winner. Dinner includes eight wines and four courses. 7 p.m. July 22. $100 plus tax and tip. 29410 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield. (248) 356-6600.