It should be no surprise that the centerpiece of the dining room at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards is a wine barrel. But for every season, that barrel adds more to the dining experience than good feng shui. During the week-long barrel wine dinner series, servers dip a long glass tube into the oak, suctioning Merlot or Syrah or whatever the winery's brand new release is from the barrel and releasing it into your glass. The $39 three-course, prix-fixe dinner is designed to match the flavors of the wine, rather than the other way around — a serious feat for Chef Eric Berg, who must essentially guess what the as-yet released wine will taste like. The food, of course, is seasonal and grown in the restaurant's garden out back. Last spring, Chef Berg put grass-fed lamb and fava beans together with the Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre GSM. Before that he paired pork and spinach with a Grenache. This August, he takes on the Sonata Cabernet-Syrah blend.
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