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Why We Give Back: Community Support at Carmine’s

When we took over Carmine’s nearly ten years ago, I was surprised by the number of solicitations for donations we received. It was our standard practice at the time to give a gift certificate to just about anyone who asked. But I could see that this was not a sustainable practice and questioned the true value of these donations from a both a philanthropic and marketing perspective.

Then the recession hit in 2008, really changing the financial realities for many people. Our business declined substantially as well. As the dust was settling, I realized that we were still in good shape and felt a need to support the local community in some way and to share our good fortune with others. My wife and I debated several ideas with a real focus on how we might “feed” people in need.

This led me to the head of The Delores Project. She agreed to meet with me and hear our “brilliant” idea. I wanted to open the restaurant for one day a year and feed anyone for free. She politely told me this was not only a bad, potentially chaotic plan, but that this one day of helping would not spread very far. So our plan evolved. We chose to select as many charitable partners as we thought we could support and then design specific ways that we might help each one.

Fast forward to today. We have used our restaurant space for special gatherings, catered events, and hosted dining evenings where substantial portions of the proceeds are directed to our partners. Each fall, we entertain presentations from organizations that ask for our support. We are naturally drawn to certain types of organizations. Specifically, we have worked with groups dedicated to homelessness, children and schools. We try to determine if our support will be important to the recipient either financially or in a way that helps to build up an organization. We want to evaluate each organization for their ability to deliver to those in need and use our donation wisely.

This month, we are proud to support the work of two local organizations – Project Angel Heart and The Denver Waldorf School. On Tuesday, April 28, we are hosting a fundraising dinner for The Denver Waldorf School and will be donating at least 50% of the evening’s food sales to the school. My three children attended Waldorf Schools from preschool through high school, so l am acquainted with the wonderful work done by dedicated teachers in this system. Not only that, but The Denver Waldorf School moved back to our neighborhood in 2014 and is celebrating 40 years in Denver! We wish to support their continued growth and capacity to serve children.

Then on Thursday, April 30, we are joining over 250 restaurants throughout Denver and Boulder to participate in Dining Out for Life to support Project Angel Heart – a nonprofit whose mission is to deliver nutritious meals to Coloradans with life-threatening illnesses. Save the date to dine out with us and we’ll donate 25% of the evening’s food sales to Project Angel Heart!

We hope to see you soon, and thank you for your continued support.

-Brad Ritter, Owner 

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Wines at Carmine’s

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Does anyone age wine anymore?

Once it was standard practice for a restaurant to purchase wine with the intention of aging before presenting to the consumer. But today, market pressures make this quite rare as the cost of inventory, space, and knowledge limit the opportunity.

Here at Carmine’s, we strive to offer a simple, uncomplicated wine list composed of all Italian wines (which can be very confusing to consumers). We are committed to serving the finest wines we offer after some extended aging in an effort to show the true sense of Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino wines, for example.

Recently, we were offered the current vintage (vintage = the year the grapes are harvested) of these “big three” to add to our wine cellar. We tasted 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages. We try to project development of these “young” wines so that they can be offered in a rotation with other purchased wine when they are more ready for the consumer.

Some of these same wines are on our wine list today from the 2001, 2004 and 2006 vintage! We will try to save a couple of bottles from special vintages for those times when a consumer is really searching for something special. So we typically have a few bottles of quite special and more aged wines when requested. This category represents a small corner of our total wines sold, but it occupies a large portion of interest and intrigue as we get to follow these wines in their development.

Next time you dine with us, feel free to inquire about the following wines:

Cogno “Vigna Elena” Barolo 2004

Allegrini Amarone 2006

Gianni Gagliardo Barolo 2006

Pe’re Allesandro “Vigna Giaia” Barbaresco 2001

Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2006