Now that summer has migrated much further south than the 43rd parallel, what I consider the serious food season has begun. It starts with harvest, a final celebration of the summer garden and a nod to the wine-making industry. Then Oktoberfest barrels down with a singular purpose devoted to the consumption of beer and a few brats. And then there's Halloween, and food is arguably an integral part of the trick-or-treat experience. After that, we have the mother of all food-centric holidays: Thanksgiving. Take it on through holiday baked goods, Christmas dinner, New Year's champagne and Valentine's Day boxed chocolate, and you have one helluva calorie-laden cold season. I say embrace it. Pay up on your gym membership and indulge in all the comforts of wine and fattening food. But don't wait until Thanksgiving to get started. In celebration of the grape harvest, start now with a little wine tasting.
The original gathering point for wine connoisseurs in town, Grape Escape, is still hosting Tuesday night flights. Get five wines for $5 starting at 5 p.m. Grape Escape, 800 W. Idaho St., Boise, 208-368-0200.
This Wednesday, Oct. 9, 6 p.m., Kuna's Tannin's Wine Bar is hosting its grand re-opening with a wine tasting, 50 percent off selected wines and a full dinner menu. Tannin's Wine Bar, 347 Avenue E, Kuna, 208-922-1766, tanninswinebar.com.
Wednesday nights from 5-8 p.m., the Tavern Wine Market at Bown Crossing offers deals on wine flights with a pairing nibble. The draw here is that Tavern Wine Market is a BW Card member. Price varies depending on the evening's selection. Tavern Wine Market, 3073 S. Bown Way, Boise, 208-343-9463, tavernatbown.com.
Every Thursday night, Divine Wine Bar in Meridian offers themed wine flights featuring wines from around the world from 7-9 p.m. If your palate needs a little education, wine enthusiast Garry Scholz will conduct an informal class on Great Wines of the Rhone Valley on Friday, Oct. 16, 6-8 p.m., for $20 per person. Divine Wine Bar, 2310 E. Overland Road, Ste. 105, Meridian, 208-887-6262, divinewineidaho.com.
And because you never know when the mood to do a little wine tasting might strike, Woodriver Cellars opens its tasting room seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. I'd recommend planning a Friday night outing in the near future, when you'll be able to sit down, listen to live music and have a proper dinner (the menu is limited but prime rib and cedar-smoked salmon have been recent features). The winemaker is usually hanging out, giving impromptu tours and, if you're lucky, barrel tastings. Dinner and music also happens Saturday. Woodriver Cellars, 3705 N. Hwy. 16, Eagle, 208-286-9463, woodrivercellars.com.
Not into wine? Oktoberfest is in full swing at Tablerock Brewpub through Oct. 17 with specials on Oktoberfest Ale and German food. If you want a seriously festive experience, go Oct. 9-10, when Edelweis plays "oompah" music from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 16-17, Brasskellar provides the music from 7-8:45 p.m. Tablerock Brewpub, 705 Fulton St., 208-342-0944, tablerockbrewpub.com.