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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Viale Transforms for Harry’s Hosted Greek Wine Dinner

Viale Transforms for Harry’s Hosted Greek Wine Dinner:
August 16 event mimics a 
summer night in Athens
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Except for the throb of a chopper bike going by, a fire engine rushing to a call or all the American-made cars in the parking lot, you’d think you were in Athens in summertime enjoying a leisurely dinner with some of your closest friends. That was the idea behind “A Summer Night in Athens Greek Wine Dinner”, presented by Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market of Fairfield and Dimos Mitas, owner of Mina Foods, at Viale Restaurant Tuesday evening, August 16.

Conducted from 7pm until close on the patio of the restaurant at 3171 Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock, just over the Fairfield line, the four course meal attracted over 35 people from the area. Besides introducing people to Greek cuisine and culture, the event was meant to preview some of the exquisite wines that are produced in that country.

Mitas imports wines from Greece primarily and, through Harry’s, was offering six varietals as an accompaniment to the dinner. “The goal is to expose the brands to diverse people and give them an opportunity to try them and pair them,” said William Miller, Director of Fine Wines at Harry’s. “People may be reluctant to take a Greek wine off the shelf. In this setting, people get to hear from the importer, who will impart his knowledge, while being transported to Greece.”

The crowd – couples and singles predominantly – looked eager to sample the selections on menu cards before them as they sat around black iron tables on a brick patio under Viale’s burgundy colored outdoor canopy. Purplish variegated plants rimmed the open space and the trickle of a wall-mounted fountain helped to soothe tired minds and mute any challenges of the day.

So did the fruity tones of a 2010 Muses Estate #9 white wine, developed from grapes grown in central Greece (Viotia) in vineyards that are hundreds of years old. The “Muses” were spiritual advisors said to have lived in a monastery, where they would make wine. The great-grandfather of the winery owner bought the vineyard and recultivated the grapes. Over the past 10 years, the winery owner’s son brought the vineyard up to date and perfected the grapes.

The Muses vintage was a fine complement to large platters of Greek cheeses and mezes, the first course. There were spears of feta, kasseri, kefalograveira, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), special pepperoncini and olives, cucumber & tomato wedges, and loukaniko (Greek sausage with orange peel).

As diners tucked in, Miller joked to them, “Welcome to Athens. You may have noticed the Acropolis, the statue of Zeus, and ruins.” He mentioned that this event complements wine classes held regularly at Harry’s and that Greece is a great wine growing region. “Today, there are beautiful varietals, but the key is importing and being able to showcase them. That’s where Dimos comes in,” he said.

The second course arrived (along with mosquitoes) as the sun dipped behind adjacent Black Rock brownstones. The fare was grilled octopus and grilled calamari served on an oval-shaped plate.

Seated beside Nick Anaya of Fairfield, Georgina Heasman, a Southporter and wine intern when not attending Endicott College, said, “This is a perk of my internship. It’s so stressful,” she joked, tossing back a 2010 Medineo Roditis white wine. “It’s a tough life but someone’s got to do it.”

The Medineo brand was joined by a 2010 Muses Savatiano, to give diners some options for their palate. The generous pours of each served to satiate but also inspire spontaneity as Laura Papallo, a Southington resident leaped to her feet and led fellow attendees in the Zorba dance.

This was a good lead in to course #3, consisting of lamb chops with spinach, chicken souvlaki and oven-roasted potatoes with a hint of lemon. Again, wine options were offered, including a 2005 Quadrille and 2007 Laloudi Agiorgitiko, both rich reds that complemented the meats.

Not satisfied with leading a dance number only, Papallo sprang to her feet again to perform two operatic medleys, namely “O Sole Mio” and “Come Back to Sorrento”.

What Greek dinner would be complete without dessert? Not only did diners receive a healthy salvo of baklava, but a wonderful Samos Muscut N.V. with which to wash it down.

For information about future wine dinners, contact Harry’s at 203-259-4692 or visit the shop on the web at

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