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September 14, 2006 - Image 19

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-14

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{the b-side]
Here's to Vinology, A2's
swankiest new wine bar

Thursday, September 14, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 5B

By Andrew Sargus Klein
Associate Arts Editor
The ambiance of Vinol-
ogy, one of Main Street's lat-
est accoutrements, looks like a
stripped-down version of a '50s
diner. But the interior boasts
a rich atmosphere suitable for
any displaced Manhattanite to
find cultured respite. Ashley's,
hands down the most diverse (in
terms of beer and whiskey
selec-
tion) bar
in Ann
Arbor,
now has
ALEX a step-
DZIADOSZ/ sister in
Daly Vinology.
Both
watering
holes anni-
hilate the
naive
patron
with an
exten-
sive
drink
list.
Whereas
beer taps
over-
whelm
patrons at
Ashley's,
I theupstairs
bar at
Vinology
has no vis-
ible taps
- instead,
as the name
mightsuggest,
the restau-

rant is stocked with extensive
shelves of wine.
My visit to Vinology, though,
did not include the upstairs.
Instead, I had the pleasure of
experiencing the Tuesday night
wine tasting - and two hours
later left slightly buzzed and
completely enamored with the
place.
At $35 a head (plus tax and
gratuity), the venture seems
a bit steep. But wine director
Paul Hannah makes sure every
cent, second and sip of your two
hours is well spent. In the almost
too-cozy basement confines,
Hannah takes you through 10
or so wines. Always featuring a
theme, Vinology showcased the
wines of South Africa on my
particular night.
Whether you hold your glass
by the stem or the body, make
use of the spit buckets located
on every table, enjoy the flinty
textures of African soil or just
want a damn good glass of
wine, this is the place to go.
Hannah deftly mixes tongue-
in-cheek humor with legitimate
"geeky wine things" to present
a breadth of knowledge accessi-
ble to both the beginner and the
connoisseur. He described our
first wine, a Chenin Blanc, as
a "patio pounder." His mission
is to present the art of wine as
"easy to understand, rather than
snobby and imposing."
And he succeeds. I don't feel
ridiculous for knowing it takes
25 years to make the cork for a
bottle of wine. Nor will I hang
my head in embarrassment for
ordering an LH Gewrtztramin-
er with my shrimp curry.

As we opened the tasting
- complete with hors d'oeuvre,
including oysters and guacamo-
le-smothered chicken - Han-
nah immediately launched into
how apartheid played a signifi-
cant role in the development of
South Africa as an international
wine market. With such heady
historical background, I was
expecting a trite, upturned-nose
conversation. To my pleasant
surprise, this was not the case.
The information was presented
in such a down-to-earth fash-
ion, and it was impossible not
to engage in the tasting whole-
heartedly.
You don't go to Vinology to
become a connoisseur (well,
you could, easily). You go to
Vinology to better appreciate
wine as one of mankind's most
unbelievably diverse beverages.
The atmosphere invites all lev-
els of knowledge, and Hannah
answered all innocent, curi-
ous questions with warmth and
geniality.
The two couples at my table
had as little knowledge of wine
as I did. But eight or so rounds
into the evening and everyone
was rosy-cheeked, chatting,
laughing and comparing wines
like experts.
And oh yeah: Each person
goes home with an individual
bottle of wine. Now the steep
price isn't quite so steep - and
the experience makes up for it.
This might not be the perfect
spot for a first date, but expect
major bonus points from your
significant other if you bring
him/her to the Tuesday wine
tasting for a special occasion.

PETER ScHOTTENFELS/Daly
Main Street wine bar and restaurant Vinology offers themed wine tastings each week. $35 pro-
vides comprehensive tasting of half a dozen to a dozen wines, specially paired with appetizers, as
well as as bottle of your own to take home.

Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival draws music legends each year

By Catherine Smyka
Daily Arts Writer
Against a backdrop of Sept. I1 photos, soul singer
Alberta Adams proclaimed a powerful message to her
Sept. 11 audience at the Ann Arbor District Library
Tuesday night. Adams is one of the many jazz perform-
ers featured in the annual Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz
Festival, which began Monday and continues through
tomorrow.
"The way the world's going today," Adams said to her
captive audience, "there ain't nothing but the blues."
Dubbed "Queen of the Blues" by her fans, Adams
joined jazz legends Charlie Gabriel and George Benson
for a night of music and discussion in the basement of

the Ann Arbor District Library.
The three musicians renminisced about getting started
in the music business, recalling past performances and
the timeless stories of the careers they have enjoyed.
Adams in particular has been singing the blues on stage
since 1947.
"There's something very casual about this business,"
Adams said. "I do what I gotta do. And that's it"
Saxophone gods Gabriel and Benson have performed
with an impressive list of music's marvels, including
Aretha Franklin. On Tuesday, the trio played alongside
drummer RJ Spangler and his Rhythm Rockers. The
three, paired with a string bassist and pianist, accompa-
nied Adams's vocals, playing her original tunes "Please
Remember Me" and "Born with the Blues"

Besides Adams, Gabriel and Benson, this year's fes-
tival features names like Thornetta Davis, who plays
tomorrow at the Cavern Club, as well as high school
bands that perform Monday through today at Whole
Foods Market.
Peter Andrews, president of the nonprofit Blues and
Jazz Festival, can't say enough about the festival he
helped found in 1972 and has been a part of ever since.
"We're getting (the festival) back to that quality level
that it once was," Andrews said. "That's very exciting."
This festival has been a huge focus in Andrews's
life. In the past 34 years, he has had the privilege of
experiencing what he calls "the classics": headliners
Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Al Green, Bonnie Raitt and
James Brown.
Andrews believes in the festival, even as it changes
from year to year. And while it has been successful,
Andrews would like to see it return to its original form.
"It needs to have a vision," he said, "(but) it's going
back in that direction.
In its first few years, the festival was especially popu-

lar, with the second installment featuring a Ray Charles
performance broadcast live to 96 radio stations.
In previous years,the festivaloffered meet-and-greets
with performers, children's activities and an outdoor
daytime street party, which was cancelled this year but
will continue in 2007 at the festival's new venue, Hill
Auditorium.
Those who join the festivities can look forward to
grainy voices, saxophones.and an enthusiastic crowd.
Now in its third decade, the festival attracts residents
and students from all over the city who come to witness
the therapeutic melodies that embody blues and jazz at
their best.
"There's no business like show business," Adams
said to her audience. "And we love it."
The festival runs through tomorrow. Local high
school bands will play at Whole Foods Market on
Washtenaw from 6-7 p.m. on tonight. Thornetta Davis
and others will be playing two shows at the Cavern
Club tomorrow at 9 and 11 p.m. All events are free and
open to the public.

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