Last Night’s Wine Dinner with Gary and Gina Thompson
Last night, Marieta and I had the great pleasure of dining out with Gary Thompson and his lovely wife, Gina. We attended the quarterly wine dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill, on West Charleston. This was about the tenth or so wine dinner we’ve enjoyed which was hosted at Carrabba’s. They’re always unique, offering good drinkable wines, at a reasonable price.
The highlight for us was visiting with Gary and Gina for almost three hours. Gary used to be my boss at the World Series of Poker. Now, he’s the spokesman for Caesar’s Entertainment, which has been in the news a lot lately. He’s what you would call a big shot. Before working in casino public relations, Gary was the managing editor for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He has quite a story, dating back to working for many years in New York City, and serving in Pakistan while in the Air Force during the 1960s. Gary is not only a fascinating man. He’s become a sort of mentor for me, although judging by my behavior, I didn’t exactly follow in his hallowed footsteps.
Gina was just as engaging as a dinner guest. They Thompsons have been married for five years, now. They have five kids together — make that four dogs and a cat. We exchanged plenty of “pet parent” stories. Pet lovers understand what I’m talking about.
The dinner was hosted by the always dependable rock of wineries — Jimbo A’Hearn. Jimbo and the Carrabba’s staff always take great care of us, and make everyone feel special. He really knows his wines, and usually picks something sure to be different. Other than the fact he’s an Oakland Raiders fan (he’s from Northern California), Jimbo is a pretty good guy, and the perfect host for the evening.
Last night, we sampled several selections from Santa Margherita, not something I would normally pick out since it’s Italian. For Italian wine, each offering was beyond what I expected, with the highly unusual Cabernet the best of the lot (Italian Cabernets are somewhat rare). We enjoyed four different varieties, and multiple glasses.
The five-course meal, with wine pairings came in at $50 per person, a real bargain. We also enjoyed bruschetta, salad, shrimp, pork chops, lasagna, and cannoli. They allow you to drink as much wine as you want. There were also several prizes given away (bottles of wine). However, we didn’t win anything, leading me to believe the contest was rigged.
Carrabba’s offers a fun wine experience, good food, and a nice evening which is especially suited for couples or groups. They do the wine winners about every 2 or 3 months. I highly recommend trying one even if you’re not much of a wine drinker. These are ideally suited to casual diners who are looking for a bit of a different experience, which is still affordable.
Thanks to the Thompson’s, to Jimbo, and the lovely Marieta for a terrific evening. I can’t wait until the next wine dinner at Carrabba’s.
Note: Phone the restaurant directly to make reservations at the next wine tasting/dinner.