It seems that Wednesdays are officially becoming synonymous with wine! In addition to our “Winesday” column, you can now enjoy an array of vino-based festivities at Mohegan Sun’s latest weekly event, “Wine Wednesdays.” The evenings embrace the acclaimed restaurants and lounges already present within the casino, but present them with an emphasis on wine. Four course pairing dinners unfold every Wednesday at both Bobby Flay’s Bar American and Todd English’s Tuscany. Casino guests can also relax with a glass of champagne and smooth jazz rifts at the Vista Lounge starting at 8pm. The first Wednesday of every month, though, has a special offering: “Tasting and Tapas” at Todd English’s Tuscany. I had the pleasure of experiencing the affair (which has an impressively alliterate title, I might add) earlier this month.
Tasting and Tapas unfolded on the beautiful “patio” in the front of Tuscany. Tuscany has an indoor restaurant with the kitchen, bar, and tables, as well as a front portion looking out on the casino. Mohegan adopted the motif of a night sky, so guests sitting in that area feel the illusion of eating dinner under twinkling stars on a summer’s evening.
While the arrangement is beautiful, I suspect that the restaurant will have to find a different space due to the ever increasing popularity of the event. The patio seats thirty, but the number of people interested exceeded that number.
“Tell people we’re full,” I overheard the manager telling his colleagues. “I guess next time we’ll make it bigger.” He went on to explain that this was their second month holding the event and the population had doubled since the last time. It’s easy to see the appeal; at just $20 a person, the value is incredible. Moreover, the tapas style menu gives attendees the opportunity to sample smaller portions of an array of foods.
“Honestly, we were really interested when we saw this because we had a big lunch,” said Lilly Grima, a diner and Westchester resident. “We weren’t that hungry, but the tapas idea sounded relly good.”
The dinner is the result of collaboration between the chefs and wine distributors. Usually the wines pay tribute to a different region. Each month will feature bottles from a different part of the world. Once the chefs suggest a menu, the distributors strive to find wines that will complement each course.
On that night, there was a minor deviation in that the wines did not herald from one area of the globe. Rather, the wines came from Tuscany’s wine list. I enjoyed that twist because it gave me the chance to try a variety of styles in a single night. The tapas themselves do not come directly from the Tuscany menu. However, they do pay tribute to the food and flavors of the restaurant. The four-course dinners, though, do utilize dishes on the menu.
We began our night with a light course. We were poured the La Marca Prosecco from Vento, Italy. Like champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling beverage. However, its Italian origins require that it go by a different label. Prosecco also differs from champagne in that it is slightly less expensive to make and therefore more accessible. I enjoyed the glass. It had a lovely straw color, which I found wonderfully unexpected. It had layers of floral and citrus.
The Prosecco did an incredible job of complimenting the first course, a play on a shrimp cocktail. Although “shrimp cocktail” often refers to chilled shrimp, ours were grilled and slightly warm. A lemon pepper pesto adorned it and the citrus in the wine intermingled with the lemon and parsley in each bite.
Next, we enjoyed a glass of William Hill Chardonnay. This wine is described as a “well-balanced wine” with “crisp acidity and subtle notes of vanilla and toast, complimented by a creamy mouthfeel.” Unlike many California Chardonnays, this one contained only few traces of oak. It spends only 8 months in American oak and goes through 50% malolactic fermentation. I certainly enjoyed the well-rounded and complex taste. At the same time, the bottle proves accessible in price. It retails for around $14 a bottle.
The Chardonnay was poured alongside a burrata. The mozzarella ball had an extra surprise; it was filled with ricotta cheese. It came over a crouton and with touches of fresh basil and olive oil. I particularly enjoyed the crouton, which had complex flavors and a distinct infusion of garlic. The tapa reminded me of a deconstructed pizza.
The third wine was my favorite of the night: Don Miguel Gascon from Argentina. The brooding Malbec walked on the dark side, oozing flavors of plum, raspberry, mocha, and chocolate. It had a medium level of tannin, which added a kinetic touch without overwhelming the palate. The bottle paid tribute to the spicy veal meatball set down alongside it.
The festivities concluded with a dessert, a chocolate mousse with a graham cracker tweel. I am not usually one for mousse; I find that at the end of a meal they can feel overly heavy and rich. This mousse, however, won me over. It felt light and focused on the mocha flavor rather than the weight of cream. The graham cracker tweel was far from a garnish and enhanced the rest of the dish. The cinnamon played on the sweet spiciness subtly woven in the mousse. A rich Cabernet Sauvignon worked with the decadence of the chocolate. The “fresh red plum and blackberry jam aromas… supported by caramelized and toasted oak notes” made for a satisfying end.
Only it’s not really the “end!” Every Wednesday night has new, exciting wine offerings! For a list of all Wine Wednesday events, visit http://mohegansun.com/dining/dining-specials.html#wineWednesdays.