Good Wine in Unexpected Places

At many concert venues and most ballparks, when it comes to beverages, beer is the star and wine is an after-thought—if it’s thought of at all.

You know the kind of wine you get at awards banquets or convention functions? Typically, it’s mass-produced stuff that may…or may not…be a step up in quality from “Two-Buck Chuck.” And when they charge $5 or $6 per glass (the glass being a plastic cup, in most cases), I can’t help but think that I could have bought two or three bottles for that price at the supermarket.

Not that I would have…just that I could have.

Well, the other night in downtown Indianapolis, I had a rare wine-by-the-glass experience at a small performance venue—the Phoenix Theatre, to be precise.

I was there to see one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Tim Grimm, along with a very talented cast in a musical production called “Forever Sung: A Celebration of Age in Song.” It was a candid, often amusing, and frequently thought-provoking look at getting older, presented primarily through topical songs written by folks like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, The Beatles and many others. A fairly complete list of the songwriters tapped is here

I enjoyed the show immensely, and I was pleasantly surprised when, at intermission, I went up to the bar and found a Monterey County Chardonnay from Estancia being offered. Yes, it was served in a plastic cup, but it was a quality wine, and served at a temperature that allowed the apple, pear, peach, buttercream and mild oak nuances to shine.

I asked for a glass/cup and handed over a $10 bill, fully expecting to get $2 or, if I was lucky, $3 back in change. Imagine my surprise when the change was $6—meaning that the wine was being sold for $4 per serving.

I drank it a little more quickly than I normally would so I could get a second glass to savor with the second act of the play.

So, when in Indianapolis, check what’s playing at the Phoenix Theatre. And if you end up going to a performance there, order a “glass” of Chardonnay with confidence.

Today, my road trip continues with a stop at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, home of the minor league Toledo Mud Hens baseball team. It’s a rare morning game—the first pitch is at 10:30—and I’m looking forward to seeing the favorite team of Cpl. Max Klinger of “M*A*S*H” fame.

I’ve already secured a seat in Section 112, which, if you’ll notice on this dining map of the stadium, is where the Bar Cart is located. And if you look at the Bar Cart menu, you’ll see that one of the selections listed is “Wine.”

What kind of wine? From where? At what price?

Assuming the Bar Cart opens at some point during the game (10:30 is too early even for me, except when in Wine Country, of course), I will sample at least one of the wines offered and report on my experience right here tomorrow.

If Fifth Third Field does as well with its wine selection as the Phoenix Theatre does with its Chardonnay, I’ll be one happy baseball fan.

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a good glass of wine at an unexpected venue? Share your tips in the Comments box below.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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