Celebrate the season with virtual wine tastings, a DIY beer spread and more.
Learn About Wine, From a Distance
Thursday wine tastings are a tradition at House Wine in Old Worthington, an opportunity for oenophiles and wine novices to sample wines from select regions and learn from an expert. These days, House Wine hosts its tastings on Facebook Live—a shift that has helped buoy the wine shop through the pandemic. “We’ve discovered a whole new area that we didn’t know existed,” says Jim Scarfpin, House Wine’s general manager. “It’s been a way to reach more customers.”
House Wine’s buyer, Jeff Lohr, runs the tastings every Thursday from 6 to 6:30 p.m., featuring four to five wines around a theme, such as “Discover Bordeaux.” Some customers purchase the featured wines ahead of time, but many stop by the shop later to pick up bottles that sparked their interest, Scarfpin says. House Wine, located at 644 High St., has also returned to hosting on-premise (socially distanced) tastings for $15 on Thursdays.
For another option, Veritas’ sommelier, Gregory Stokes, will continue to host virtual wine tastings into the fall. Look for upcoming virtual tastings on Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8 and Nov. 22. Tickets can be purchased at cuveewinesociety.com. —Erin EdwardsColumbus Fall Fun How to make the best of an autumn unlike any before.
Enjoy an Open Container (Legally)
As outdoor dining has become a popular way to practice safe social distancing amid COVID-19, Ohio’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area laws have increasingly been put to good use. The legislation, passed in 2015, allows cities to relax open-container rules in certain districts. Once a DORA is established, visitors may walk carefree within its boundaries with alcoholic beverages (in designated cups) purchased from participating businesses.
In Central Ohio, DORA districts are now in Delaware, Grove City, Hilliard, Powell and Worthington—though each community’s DORA season and hours are different. Hilliard and Powell’s DORA seasons are set to end in September, though Powell’s may get extended.
Initially proposed in February, Gahanna’s new Creekside DORA will debut by October, says city communications manager Carrin Wester. At least six businesses are on board to participate, including Stadium and Nostalgia Brewing Co. “The timing
seemed perfect, and so we really wanted to make sure that we got it done this year,” says Wester. “Even with the delays, we just knew that this is something that could support our businesses. Some positive news in 2020.” The proposed hours are 3 to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.
Delaware’s DORA, which runs along Sandusky Street and along William and Winter streets, will run through Dec. 31 or whenever patio season ends. The hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Sunday. —Erin Edwards
Create Your own Oktoberfest Beer Spread
Columbus’ annual festival may have been canceled this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your own Oktoberfest at home. But first: What exactly is an Oktoberfest beer? “The traditional Bavarian style of beer is called a Marzen, and is typically more full-bodied, with a malty flavor and a drier finish,” says Whitney Martin, bar manager at The Barrel and Bottle. “It was brewed in March, and cellared until September. This time lent to its darker reddish-brown color and higher alcohol content.” Food-wise, Oktoberfest beers are often served with the typical German fare found at the festival of the same name. (Think bratwursts, sauerkraut, potato dumplings, pretzels and schnitzel.) But Martin says feel free to broaden your menu selections. “Today it is easier to pair a more diverse menu with the style as brewers make lighter and more drinkable variants,” she says.
Columbus Monthly asked Martin and the staff at The Barrel and Bottle for their favorite Oktoberfest beers. “We used the Ayinger Oktoberfest beer as our base to compare stylistically,” Martin says. “It is an incredibly famous import from Germany and is highly sought-after every year.” Here are their four favorites—all brewed in Ohio—from darkest to lightest. —Brittany Moseley
The Brew Kettle’s (Strongsville) Oktoberfest: “Out of everything we sampled, it tasted closest to the Ay- inger original.”
Homestead Brewing Co.’s (Heath) Marzen: “Year after year [it] remains very consistent.”
Land-Grant Brewing’s (Columbus) Lawnraker: “Lighter-bodied variation, lives up to its design; crushable enough for a day of yard work.”
Taft’s (Cincinnati) Ok-tub-erfest: “For a much lighter and toastier version, we liked Taft’s Ok-tub-erfest.”