You know, wine might be the original form of conscious eating. With a label full of details about things like vintage and varietals, few packaged products throughout history have been so transparent with regard to their origins. Sometimes, though, it seems like a lot of information, and that's even before you get into the nuances of taste. Wine can be daunting, especially when someone starts holding forth on tannins or acidity, and all you're able to detect is a whisper of fermented grapes. So if your enjoyment of wine has ever been hindered by the intimidation factor, just remember this: "It's food. You like it or you don't."
That refreshing clarity comes courtesy of Paul Powers, who, along with his wife, Amy, co-owns the new Veritas Wine Bar at Alexander Park. The Powers gleaned their wine knowledge through stints at Park Avenue's Wine Sense and as sales reps for a distributor, and they've parlayed their passion for the grape into a charming spot for both hardcore oenophiles and aspiring aficionados.
"We want to get other people excited about wine," says Amy, whose extensive and nicely priced wine list, offered by both the glass and the bottle, also provides curious quaffers with options for a half-glass, the perfect way to design your own custom tasting flight.
Wines from all over the world share menu space with a selection of different beers and a few nonalcoholic offerings, as well as snacky stuff like a rotating cheese-and-charcuterie board featuring Baker Street bread and booze-infused nuts from Gifted Foods. The Powers are making sure your brain stays nourished as well; besides wine-education classes (the debut, "International Varietals in Italy," is scheduled for September 25), Veritas is the exclusive Rochester venue for Nerd Nite, a monthly lecture series that brings together interesting talkers and interested listeners. The first Nerd Nite will take place Wednesday, September 12; admission is $5 per person, and among the guest speakers is Chris Hartman from The Good Food Collective. Call Veritas for tickets, and maybe throw your hat in the ring if there's a subject on which you're particularly geeked out.
Veritas Wine Bar at Alexander Park is located at 217 Alexander St. It is open Tuesday-Saturday 4-11 p.m. Single drink prices range from $1.50 to $14; full bottle prices range from $15 to $160. For more information, including class registration and daily specials, call 262-2336 or visit veritaswinebar.com.
Food for thought
As part of the upcoming festival Greentopia | Film, Good Luck will host the kickoff, known as "Short Courses," on Tuesday, September 11. The event begins at 7 p.m. with cocktails and a tour of Good Luck's lush garden, the progress of which Greentopia has been recording all summer for a short documentary to premiere that evening. Once settled in back at the restaurant, attendees will watch a quartet of food-centric shorts, each followed by a course that ties in to the film that preceded it.
Chef Dan Martello selected the films that most inspired him — the four shorts to make the cut involve oysters, cured meats, Southern barbecue, and a longtime pizza maker in Queens — and designed their attendant courses. Tickets are $75 and seating is limited, so visit greentopiafestival.com/film to learn how to get in on this potentially delicious action.
More than 100 local restaurants, wineries, breweries, specialty-food purveyors, and farms are scheduled to participate in this year's Festival of Food, happening Monday, September 10, 6-9 p.m. at the Rochester Public Market. Our regional food bank's annual tasting event is also a fundraiser, with proceeds earmarked for Foodlink's continued work providing nutrition and education in Central and Western New York. Advance tickets are $40; visit festivaloffood.org for more information.
Looking to hone your cooking skills? The Culinary Center at Vella recently released its schedule of fall classes taught by local chefs, with highlights including a seasonal menu from The Cellar Door's Matt Laurence (October 15, $85), "A Sophisticated Thanksgiving Dinner" led by Chris Januzzi from The Rabbit Room (November 5, $79), and a gluten-free workshop with Brown Hound Bistro owner Trish Aser (November 27, $65). Call 421-9362 or visit vellaculinarycenter.com for all the details.
The Dairy Queen chain recently made its first foray into Rochester, with a DQ Grill & Chill opening at 1100 Jefferson Road and reportedly breaking the U.S. franchise record for best opening day. A second Greece location is being planned.
The old Social/Shea's spot at 303 East Ave. is now home to Wall Street Bar & Grill, serving both lunch and dinner and open every day until 2 a.m. Its gimmick is this: the electronically posted drink prices fluctuate like stock, with heavily ordered drinks going up, while others plummet. Visit wallstreetrochester.com for more insider information.
Seafood lovers, keep a watchful eye out for Chowder UP, the latest addition to our fair city's growing fleet of food trucks. This mobile kitchen offers up maritime treats like lobster rolls, fish tacos, and New England clam chowder. You can find 'em on Facebook.
Dolce Cupcakery, a bakery specializing in, you know, cupcakes, debuted its second location earlier this month at 693 Park Ave. Pop over to dolcecupcake.com for a listing of flavors, and try not to drool on your keyboard.
The upscale Italian restaurant Henry B's has shut its doors; fall 2012 will see 140 East Ave. home to the East End Bistro & Dessert Bar (Henry B's gift cards will be honored there) as well as a downtown outpost of Moe's Southwest Grill.
Park & Oxford Café & Delicatessen is sadly no more. Signs on the door to the below-ground space at 283 Oxford St. hint at an interesting new eatery, so stay tuned...
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.