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Wine & Dine

The Melting Pot

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When you enter the restaurant the decor speaks wine. Two gated cellars stand on either side of the reception desk. Wine awards are everywhere. Bar and Wine Manager Tom Cello is in charge of the training and his view is simple, "Wine education is our restaurant lifestyle."

They have a tightly woven system. All 450 wines on their list (45 are from Virginia) have bin numbers next to them. These are their codes. The smaller numbers are the lighter-bodied wines, while the larger numbers are fuller. You always know where your taste buds stand here.

The part of the restaurant that you don't see is equally interesting. Wine maps, wine information and food-pairing sheets are plastered all over their cabinets in the hallway leading to the kitchen. This serves as an instant reference library for the staff. They pass through here 50 times a day.

We have chosen the Swiss cheese appetizer for four of us, at $4.95 each. Our dinner is the fondue feast, an extravaganza at $37 each. Cello has selected the Horton Reserve Viognier 2000, $49 with the appetizer. To him it is "light, crisp and a perfect accompaniment."

With the fondue he has chosen the Williamsburg Winery Reserve Merlot 1998, $35. "A fuller merlot with some tannin, an excellent berry flavor and a great accompaniment to the fondue." Mr. Cello's nickname is Tom the barman. His motto: "It's a good time to be alive and in the restaurant business."

— Layne

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