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A couple of hot looking wine dinners are coming up and I had to let you know about them. The ones that are of most interest to me are those that feature wines I am not familiar with or that I might have a hard time buying. I see wine dinners as educational. You get a single price for good food and wines that match the cuisine perfectly. You’ll be able to taste more than one wine without having to commit to a full bottle of each. You know exactly what your bottom line is for everything. I find that really handy. Wine dinners that cost less than $50 are a steal. If you can point me to some of those, please comment here!

Most are $75-$150 depending on how many courses and what kinds of wines. Obviously a dinner that showcases Napa cabs will cost more than one that has bargain wines from Spain or Chile. But I like these dinners because it’s a nice way to check out new vintners and a way to see if you like the atmosphere in a restaurant you’ve been curious about. Usually the food on the wine dinner menu will be a little different than the regular menu.

Here are two I can definitely recommend:

Hoopes Vineyards has intrigued me ever since I tasted one of their wines at Morton’s. I was attending another wine event and a nice couple befriended us and pulled a bottle from their locker—another great benefit of these dinners is the camaraderie among winos! It was a delicious big-boy cab by Hoopes. This dinner at Morton’s in Anaheim on Aug. 26 consists of four courses and the second will pair a shrimp salad with Hoopes “Hoopla” Chardonnay. I can’t wait to see how their white wine tastes. The other courses are crab cakes with J “Cuvee 20,” always tasty, and a third course of filet mignon with Lipartia “Stag’s Leap” cab ’06, Liparita “Oakville” cab ’06, and Hoopes cab ’07. See how many wines you get? Should be really worthwhile for $150. Did I mention the chocolate mousse dessert?

Room Forty, a pop-up restaurant, will host a winemaker dinner on Sept. 3 with local vintners Jeff and Julie from Thompkin Cellars. Details are sketchy because they have not yet disclosed the location, but we know the wines will be lovely. I dig their rosé and they always have wonderfully bold reds. Location is “somewhere in O.C.” and guests will enjoy six courses with six wines. You’ve got to buy tickets by Aug. 29 and they’re $125 per person. The mystery will be part of the fun.—Anne Valdespino

 

  

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