The Dayton area has a remarkably robust wine-tasting scene, especially for a metropolitan area of our modest size.
Informal, drop-in wine tastings abound at local wine shops and grocery stores. Several Miami Valley restaurants host regular tastings and special wine dinners. Wine bars offer educational classes from distributor’s representatives along with flights of wines sourced from every corner of the globe.
In short, we punch well above our weight class when it comes to getting our wine on. Here are three of the many wine-tasting destinations that are worth seeking out.
• Rumbleseat Wine, 5853 Far Hills Ave., Washington Twp.: This wine bar just north of the intersection of Ohio 48 and Whipp Road is in its ninth year. Rumbleseat always has a half-dozen or so white wines and another half-dozen reds available for sampling, and the list changes weekly. It also has a couple of high-end wines available kept fresh by a wine-preservation system.
Live entertainment comes to Rumbleseat from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays (music clubs, take note: not everyone wants to wait until 9:30 or 10 for a music show to start). A wine-of-the-month club is available. The wine bar also is a retail shop, and owners Chris and Urmila keep an eye out for vintage close-outs and other bargains they can pass along to customers.
And Rumbleseat offers one thing no other wine establishment in town does: a women’s only wine-tasting, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. The event is reservation-only (937-938-9801), but be aware: this event usually sells out.
• Dorothy Lane Market Washington Square, 6177 Far Hills Ave.: The DLM store is only a few blocks from Rumbleseat — so much for geographic diversity — but it’s convenient from I-675, and has a great wine department and wine-tasting area, especially since it expanded into space that previously housed a floral shop. AND it hosts regular wine tastings three days a week, and has eight craft beer taps with growler fills, too. Even when there’s no regular wine-tasting going on, customers can score a glass of red or white available every day.
The regular tastings at the Washington Square store are held on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m., when DLM’s kitchens prepare special “chef’s plates” (usually two or three options) to accompany the wines; and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
And on ANY night, customers can pay for a bottle of wine from the retail shelf, have it opened with NO corkage fee, order any piece of fish or meat and veggies to be grilled to order at “Jack’s Grill” in the meat department or order one of the excellent Naples-style pizzas from DLM’s specially designed ovens, and sit down and have dinner in the store. No need to finish the bottle, either; the store will recork and seal it, and customers can take home the “leftovers.”
• Zemore’s Wine Cellar & Bistro, 4457 W. Franklin St. in Bellbrook, (937) 848-1155: It’s not every day you’ll find a wine bar operated by a chef. Greg Zemore is a professionally trained chef who cut his teeth (and an onion or two) at the Culinary Institute of America, this country’s most prestigious culinary school.
The space — in a strip retail center at Wilmington Pike and Franklin — has been a wine bar for decades, previously housing Cindy’s Wine Bar and Cuvee Wine Bar & Cellar, until Greg and his wife Melanie bought the place in 2016.
Zemore’s offers a rotating selection of wines by the taste or glass, favoring smaller and family-owned wine estates. And the shop throws in an occasional twist to invite comparison, such as four chardonnays from four different regions of the world. Four craft beers are offered on tap.
Signature pizzas, soups and salads are always available, but the real fun here comes from exploring the weekly specials, where that chef’s training is on full display. Recent offerings have included Sticky Bourbon Chicken Wings, Lobster Risotto Balls, Seared Scallop with Herb Mashed Potato, Panko-Breaded Pork Sandwich, Beef Pot Pie, Teriyaki Salmon, and Dutch Apple Pie. The Teriyaki Salmon was delicious on a recent visit — served on a bed of mashed potatoes, nestled in a teriyaki reduction, and topped with some shredded carrots and scallions.
Zemore’s also hosts a monthly wine-and-food pairing dinner on a Monday night, for which reservations are required.
These three suggestions are just the first pour of the bottle. There are many more wine-tasting opportunities and special meals built around wines available at local wine shops, wine bars and restaurants. And don’t forget, we’ve got several wineries in southwest Ohio that have very welcoming tasting rooms.
We wouldn’t object one BIT if you were to let us know your favorite local wine-tasting experiences in the comments!