The first full week in December always finds us in Las Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo and to celebrate the holidays with the Texas branch of the family. Mind you, when the rodeo is in town, Las Vegas calls itself “Cowboy Town”, and it’s all about ridin’, ropin’, beer, and Jack Daniels. As for us, we can get by OK on brewsky and whiskey, but just not too long! Truth be told, we do go back every year to Tobey Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill (Harrah’s) for the draught beer served in 32 oz. mason jars and generous portions of comfort food. We also favor the micro-brews and hearty fare available at the Harley-Davidson Cafe on Las Vegas Blvd. But after a while, one gets a hankerin’ for wine!
Ordinarily, when we travel by car, we take with us our favorite wines from All Corked Up and Valencia Wine Company. But this trip, Don thought I had packed the wine, and I thought he had packed the wine. So when we found ourselves wineless in Las Vegas last month, we quickly gave up the blame game and began to devise a strategy for bailing ourselves out of our predicament.
Without delay, we set off on foot to find wine and bring it back to our suite. Although we know that there are supermarkets a short distance from the Strip, we prefer to leave our car with the valet at the Marriott Grand Chateau and avoid the cirque du soleil driving scene on Las Vegas Blvd. Our first stop was our hotel gift shop/convenience store, where they stocked 2 unfamiliar whites and 2 unfamiliar reds. We selected a non-memorable white that carried us through 2 happy hours. The hotel’s roof-top bar happy hour wine was even less memorable, and to add to our disappointment, served in a plastic cup!
While we concede that the Strip hotels house many fine restaurants with notable wine lists, the hefty tab that accompanies gourmet dining in Las Vegas was not in the cards for us this trip. For example, the least expensive wine at the Gold Lounge in the Aria Resort will set one back $20 per glass. So, we opted for the Tanqueray gin and tonic ($11) and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance before seeing the quite entertaining “Viva Elvis” show.
As the week progressed, we discovered that the free-standing restaurants in the Miracle Mile Center (part of Planet Hollywood complex and across the street from our hotel) offer good, moderately-priced food and wine selections. We especially liked the Oyster Bay Seafood and Wine Bar where we enjoyed fresh oysters paired with Sauvignon Blanc. Indeed our wine outlook was starting to improve; and then we hit “pay dirt”!
We happened upon an ABC Store, like the ones in Hawaii. This souvenir shop, also in the Miracle Mile Center, has an extensive wine and spirits department, and offers a large array of “go to” labels at competitive prices. This was our first and only jackpot of the week!
The lesson learned here for frequent travelers and even more-frequent wine drinkers like ourselves is: Put wine on your packing list and check your list before you go out the door. Wine… don’t leave home without it!