This winter has been full of ups and downs. I kid you not, it’s 60 degrees one day and snowing the next, but that’s just Indiana for you.
I like to embrace the warm days and get out of the house, walk around town, and stop by any local spots that catch my eye. That’s exactly what Cory and I did a few weeks back when we went to the new Oliver Winery Downtown Tasting Room.
After several friends told me how great the new Oliver Downtown was, I thought it would be a fun day-date for Cory and I to go sample some wine, drink a cocktail, and of course, eat some food.
Oliver Downtown is a gorgeous space. Exposed brick lines the wall, beautiful light fixtures adorn the ceiling, and a rustic-chic bar with a chalkboard menu completes the space. Cory and I went on a Saturday afternoon and only one other couple were there for an extended period of time. People came in to buy a bottle of wine, grab a very quick drink, or just to check out the space. We sat at the bar, where our wonderful bartender Aliya filled us in on the many tasting options.
With a pretty vast menu, it’s hard to imagine how the Oliver staff keeps everything straight. Somehow, they manage, though, all with a friendly face. Dry whites, dry reds, semi-drys, sweets, and semi-sweets make it hard for you to choose your tastes. For a great price ($4.67), you do get 8 pours, which seems to be sufficient. Since Cory and I were both tasting and are all about sharing, we tasted 16 different types of wine (whoa)! There are also cocktails and flights available, which make for the perfect, well-rounded wine day.
Oh, and by the way, the food. Who doesn’t love a little cheese with their wine? Cheeses, jams, tapenade, and desserts all make an appearance on Oliver Downtown’s menu. There are even vegan options!
After trying a lot of wine, 2 cocktails, 3 separate cheese, and 1 type of jam, I’ve come to a a big conclusion:
It’s all creatively-crafted, delicious food!
My favorite wine was the semi-dry Gewurztraminer (2011). The wine has a very floral scent and flavor at first, but finishes off with a bite. There’s a slight spice that lingers in the back of your throat after tasting. It’s spicy enough that you want to take another drink…and another, until it’s gone.
As far as cocktails go, I decided to try the Chambouree and Cory went with the Ruby ’72. Our cocktails were completely different. The Chambouree was sweet, made with blackberry wine and ginger ale, while the Ruby ’72 was a bit zesty and tangier-almost like a mimosa-full of lemon and orange flavors. I preferred the Chambouree because it was ice cold and sweet with just a slight spice from the ginger ale, which was perfect for the warm day we were having.
To get a well-rounded meal in before dinner, Cory and I shared the Shepherd’s Mirth plate. The plate consisted of three cheeses-Monte Alba Manchego, Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper, and Ossau-Iraty as well as tomato basil jam, bread, nuts and olives. After trying everything on the plate at least three times, all I could think about was the tomato basil jam. I know, it sounds insane, but it’s crazy enough to work! It’s sweet like a tomato, with just a small hint of basil savoriness. Think delicately flavored tomato-basil pasta sauce, only sweeter. Since I’ve left Oliver Downtown, I’ve been on a hunt for a similar recipe…
If you are ever visiting Bloomington or just live here, Oliver Downtown is a must! It’s conveniently located on the downtown square and is a fun place to sit and chat during the day, or people watch on the patio on a nice night. I do recommend dedicating a large amount of time to Oliver, just so you have a chance to take everything in.
Still looking for somewhere to take that special someone for Valentine’s Day? Oliver Winery Downtown is the perfect date spot!