Enjoying Wine During a Minnesota Winter

We are deep into winter around here. Daytime high temps in the single digits. The scraping off of the windshield. Do you have your emergency kit packed in your car? Do you have a 375ml of Port in there too?

Over the weekend I had the slow cooker bubbling away with a Provencal chicken stew of epic awesomeness. It got me thinking I should talk this week about cold weather eating and drinking. This is not a long-format essay or article, so I’ll get right to it.

1) The best bowls of piping hot, perfectly cooked, handmade, locally sourced, delicious perfection that you can buy in weather like this are found at Tanpopo Noodle Shop in Lowertown, Saint Paul (next door to Black Dog Wine Bar). Chef Koshiki Yonemura and her husband Ben are two of the nicest and most humble people you can meet in the restaurant world (especially today, with every chef seeming to want spotlight attention, they are a breath of fresh air). This is seriously one of the greatest restaurants in town, and it flies under almost everybody’s radar. Do yourself a favor and turn off the cell phone, order a good bottle of wine, and enjoy a perfect bowl of noodles at this restaurant. More info from Zagat, VegGuide, and the Tanpopo Facebook Page.


The amazing Udon combination bowl at Tanpopo Noodle Shop.

2) Looking for a fireplace to curl up next to with a glass of wine? There are lots of options around town. Not always at restaurants known for their wine selection, however, but rest assured you can find a crackling fire and warmth while sipping on your Merlot and laughing with friends. The short list (and I’m sure I’m forgetting many): Wilde Roast Cafe on old Main Street, Riverview Wine Bar in Longfellow, Hell’s Kitchen downtown, The Living Room bar on the main floor of the W downtown, The Local on Nicollet (seek the “sanctuary” room in the back), the University Club on Summit (members only, but their fireplace room with worth every penny of the membership), and the granddaddy of them all: W.A. Frost on Selby and Western (which boasts one of the best wine lists in town; seek out the basement for one of the best fireplace lounges in the upper midwest).

3) The Smoking Bishop is a concoction that was brought to my life this past holiday season. It’s one of the top mulled wine drinks I’ve ever had, and after a cold day of scraping windshields and running from car to building to car, this is the greatest drink of them all.See the recipe on ToriAvey.com for all the details and history of this amazing mug of yuminess.

Stay warm everybody! Less than 12 weeks until the May 1st kickoff of the rose’ season! There IS hope!

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