Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a novice sipper, the North Market's Food & Wine Festival give you a great opportunity not only to taste great wines from around Ohio, but to get to know the people who grow and create them. It's grown to be a very popular event, so I'm going to give you some tips on how to get the most from the experience:

  • First of all, the basics: It's July - it's going to be hot. Wear sunscreen, and bring a hat. Take breaks from the sun to explore the North Market, and cool off with a scoop of Jeni's ice cream from the booth inside. Don't forget the food part of the festival, either! Curds and Whey offers a huge selection of wine's perfect match: cheese.
  • To get the most out of the festival, visit the Ohio Grape Industries Council 's great website to learn the history of wine-making in Ohio (it goes back almost 200 years!) and to get tasting notes for the wine varietals that grow best in Ohio.
  • Because Ohio has a cooler climate than more popular wine regions like California and Italy, you might not see the types of wine you're used to finding at the store. Never fear! If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, you can try its cousin - Cabernet Franc. Gewurztraminer is a light, aromatic white wine with just a touch of sweetness. Chambourcin is a full-flavored red wine that is surprisingly light on the palate.  More common varieties that do great in the state in include Riesling (Ferrante regularly takes home national awards for its Golden Bunches Riesling,) and Pinot Noir (St. Joseph Vineyard's Pinot is outstanding.)
  • Do a little research before you go to seek out the wineries that make wines you like. For instance, if you like sweeter wines or wine made from fruit other than grapes, try Maize Valley Winery. If you like drier wines, seek out Meranda-Nixon Winery. And if you've never tried honey wine, don't miss Columbus' own Brothers Drake Meadery !
  • If you really like a sample, buy a bottle right away and ask if there are any retailers in your area that carry the product. That way, you won't have to wait in a tasting line again, and you won't risk the vintner being sold out by the time you return. Bring a reusable wine tote to cut down on unneeded bags, and to keep your bottles safe from breaking.
  • Of course, drink responsibly, and enjoy yourself!