Celebrate National Wine Day in Newport Beach
National Wine Day is May 25. Technically, you could claim it’s a day to sit back and indulge in a glass or two, but let’s put things in perspective for a second. Do you really need a calendar prompt to inspire you to imbibe in a Pinot Noir or a Sauvignon Blanc on your patio after a day at the office? Because really, you shouldn’t.
The true beauty of National Wine Day lies in celebrating the joy that various varietals of grapes bring when they complete their journey from vineyard to bottle. Once they’ve been transformed, they become more than a magical elixir. They serve as a conduit for experiences built on love, laughter, friendship, and passion – the very things in life that make kicking around this blue round sphere worthwhile.
Newport Beach provides you no shortage of ways to partake in this reverie, on National Wine Day and beyond. Whether they’re using wine to make cocktails or as a cornerstone for a multi-course meal, the venues that follow seamlessly showcase why vino deserves its day in the sun, even if we toast its presence all year long.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
The world of wine can be an unruly landscape, even if you know how to drop fancy words like varietal and appellation into a conversation. As such, having some guidance to help navigate through this drinkable jungle can be invaluable. This is precisely why the Fleming’s 100 is an essential piece of Newport Beach’s wine-drinking puzzle. The Fashion Island venue’s ever-evolving, carefully curated list provides a snapshot of what defines the current state of wine, from trendy labels to selections that never go out of style. If you’re looking for a way to tighten your grasp on the culture of viticulture, look no further than here.
Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery
Do you want to blow someone’s mind? Tell them Newport Beach has a winery. A legitimate winery, complete with blocks of grape varietals and everything. In fact, this venue tucked on the north end of Newport Back Bay is such a hidden gem, you’ll be able to shock actual Newport Beach residents. If you’re currently in a state of disbelief upon reading this paragraph, there’s no better way to get over this surprise than by scheduling a wine tour and tasting for you and seven of your closest friends. Once you’re hear, you’ll spend a couple of hours touring the 3.5-acre vineyard and sampling some vino in the property’s underground wine cave(!). Better yet, you won’t have to board a plane or embark on a 6-hour drive to get back home once you’re done.
Enjoying wine with a good meal goes beyond pairing food and drink. It’s about crafting a complete dining experience; one where the beverage shares a level of complexity with the cuisine. Take the 3 for $25 special served up at this waterfront Balboa Peninsula venue. Sure, you can enjoy the seafood-centric three-course-meal with a glass of water or a soda. But wouldn’t working your way through a bottle culled from the restaurant’s solid wine list as you partake in the trio of courses make the experience even more transcendent? We’d like to think so.
Enjoying a bottle of wine at a restaurant usually gives rise to a dilemma. Do you purchase a bottle from the eatery at a marked-up price, or do you bring your own bottle and deal with the corkage fee? The excellent wine shop at this must-try Fashion Island Italian establishment provides a most intriguing work-around to this decision. If you swing by the store before you sit down to eat, you can purchase your evening’s bottle of vino at a retail-level price. It will only cost you $8 to crack it open on-site, unless you purchase one of the shop’s monthly wine picks. If you do that, the miniscule fee is waived. It’s a win-win situation with the potential for even more win.
Consider sangria: Bright, fruity, easy-drinking. It’s punch for grown-ups when properly made, easily evoking the kind of happy feelings we may have experienced drinking the real, non-metaphorical kind of Kool-Aid back in days of yore. You’d hope that any sangria boldly proclaiming itself as The Perfect Red Sangria, as is the case with the libation served at this casual joint near the Newport Beach/Huntington Beach border does, would evoke these feelings. They are indeed evoked, in part because their iteration of the beverage is almost like a drinkable dessert. A mélange of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and oranges – along with fresh mint for good measure – join red and sparkling wines to form good times in a glass. We’d say it’s perfect, but the restaurant already has that description covered.
Champagne and sushi may look like strange bedfellows to the uninitiated. Looks are deceiving in this case – the two make a dynamite pairing. It’s certainly a big reason why the Geisha Kiss cocktail at this venerable Crystal Cove restaurant is worthy of your attention. The other main reason is that the libation also pulls sake and Chambord into the mix, creating a labyrinth of slightly sweet complexity that deftly matches whatever goodies sushi master Takashi Abe may send your way in his Omakase.
Any setting can somehow be improved with a little wine or a bit of bubbly. For example: it’s a given the serene waters of Newport Harbor and a chill nautical theme make Happy Hour at this Balboa Peninsula institution a gladsome experience the moment you settle into its bar on a late weekday afternoon. If you order a glass of Champagne and pair it with a couple of oyster shooters from the restaurant’s generous Happy Hour menu, you may end up with slightly throbbing cheeks as a consequence from excessive smiling.
The Los Angeles Rams are back in Southern California where they belong. So what better way to celebrate the return of the gridiron prodigal son than by drinking wine with guy that quarterbacked the team to its first Super Bowl appearance? This Newport Dunes venue gives you the chance to do exactly that when it hosts Vince Ferragamo’s Wine Dinner Meet & Greet the third Thursday of every month. In addition to hanging out with Ferragamo and another past or present Ram, you get to dive into a sumptuous five-course meal meticulously paired with Italian or regional wines. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to imbibe in the award-winning wines of Tenuta di Ferragamo, produced by the ex-QB’s very own estate vineyard in Orange Park Acres.
One of the wine characteristics bandied about by oenophiles and wine-drinking novices alike is “fruit forward.” The motif is played up to the hilt at The Resort at Pelican Hill’s elegant flagship restaurant through their QuinaFlora wine cocktail. This take on the Sherry Cobbler cocktail uses a sweet wine-based aperitif called Dubonnet and just the right amount of homemade raspberry and rose syrup to build up from the drink’s traditional sherry base. The inclusion of fresh berries at the drink’s rim further bolsters the fruity essence of this magical concoction, practically turning it into a luscious dessert option.
Sangria may be a simple libation to create, but such simplicity is not without the opportunity for deviation. The Bahia Sangria concocted at this Corona del Mar establishment demonstrates the surprising breadth of versatility possessed by this easy-drinking drink. The base of this sangria is brandy; this may seem a bit odd until you realize the spirit is made by distilling early wine grapes, thus making it part of the wine family by proxy. Add some pomegranate, oranges, lemon, and green apples, and you have a drink that’s as casual and enjoyable as that Hawaiian shirt you just purchased from the adjacent Tommy Bahama store.