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World Cup winetasting: Spain vs. Italy (Oops!)

Chef Michael Ober played it safe three weeks ago when he was planning a World Cup theme for Thursday evening’s chic winetasting at the Backyard Bar, the West Palm Beach café he and wife Melanie manage. The wines would be from perennial World Cup powerhouses Spain and Italy.

Oops. Both, shockingly, have been eliminated.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s all about good wine. We needed to have a theme, and it’s better to have a winetasting with Spain against Italy than Costa Rica against, uh, Russia or something,” says Ober, pointing out that he’s gone to some trouble to line up the wines, all from small, boutique vineyards.

Ober’s favorite pairing is a bacon-wrapped pork-loin medallion served with a 2011 Casa Castillo Monastrell from Spain’s Jumilla region.

“You can’t make anything wrong with bacon,” Ober says, laughing.

Another illustration of the unpredictable nature of this World Cup: Ober grew up in Bremen, Germany, and his winetasting follows by mere hours a pivotal match between his native land and his new country. He promises to show up for work if Germany loses its noon match against the U.S.

“Everything is possible. I’ve seen a very interesting American team. They are good fighters,” Ober says diplomatically. “I would love to see a tie. I want Germany and the U.S. in the next round.”

Both make good wine, too.

The World Cup Winetasting and Pairing is 6 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at the Backyard Bar, in the Palm Beach Hibiscus B&B, 213 S. Rosemary Ave., in West Palm Beach. Cost: $30. For reservations and information, call 561-339-2444 or visit

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