Wine Swirls again, with the Pfister Sommelier

A Case for Riesling

I have a confession to make.  I used to drink Moscato d’Asti, ask Riesling, Muscat from California on ice, wine coolers, and Stoli Raspberry with lemonade.  This is a pretty typical roster of beverages that any 21 year old female would enjoy.  I could not stomach a pilsner beer or a glass of Chardonnay, I only wanted to imbibe something that had the sugar content of a can of Pepsi.  No dry wines for me, sovaldi not ever.

Or so I thought.  One night, I found myself at a gathering with some other servers from a neighboring steakhouse.  The grand finale to this soiree was the popping of a bottle of Opus One 2001 to denote the host’s birthday which was the reason for celebration that evening.  The host insisted that I try a small glass, to which I initially  resisted, “I DO NOT drink dry or red wines!  Don’t waste your fancy wine on me!”  The second that delightful blend of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot hit my palate. I was a changed young wine drinker.  The lush and complex layers of chocolate, blackberry, vanilla, and cassis hit me like waves and I knew what it was really like to have a “Eureka!” moment.  I was a big, bad red drinker now, and only the boldest wines in the world would sway me.

It seems that many of us who become aficionados of the California Cabernet Cults start to get a bit snobbish when confronted with sweeter wines at some point.  Yes, of course we give a pass to Dolce and Chateau d’Yquem, but snooty when at Mom’s house and she pops open a bottle of Riesling that she proudly picked up at the grocery store.  Mom, I was wrong.  A few years ago, a great mentor of mine dropped by the wine shop that I was working for at the time.  She had a bag full of German Riesling from Dr. Loosen for me to taste that day.  I groaned, rolled my eyes, huffed and said “Fine.  I guess that I need to learn more about this swill”.

She patiently poured me the samples and tried to plead with me to have an open mind.  While she talked, I admired the way the rich golden juice stuck to the sides of my wine glass, what viscosity!  I inhaled and a wall of late summer flowers came to mind, along with fresh peach and apricot.  On the palate, the current of electric acidity cut right through the rich tropical and honeyed notes, leaving a clean yet intense sensation.  That acidity- just WOW! I could thought of a million things that this delight should be paired with: some sushi, a salad with a fruit component, Thai food, African peanut stew…the list was endless.

I had judged a grape in error for so many years because I had only sampled a few.  My mind was open now!  I learned that Riesling could be picked at different degrees of sweetness, truly expanding the possibilities for food and wine pairings.  Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and finally Trockenbeerenauslese from driest to sweetest.   The names J.J. Prum, Dr. Loosen, and Donnhoff are three that I always know that I can expect consistant excellence from.  Yes, some of the finest Auslese in the world may cost nearly the same as that bottle of Opus One, but there is a plethora of delicious Riesling coming from Germany, Washington State, Australia, France, New Zealand, and Austria that is more than affordable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the big & bad red, but now I have an appreciation and adoration for something a little more graceful.

-Heather Kanter-Kowal

Heather Kanter-Kowal


Victorian Artwork in the Pfister Hotel [VIDEO]

Meet Keia, cialis Hotel Assistant Manager for the Pfister Hotel.

With a MA in Public History and Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, sick Keia is the right person for the job of bringing our Victorian Art walking tour to life.

Victorian Artwork in the Pfister Hotel from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

Wine Swirls again, with the Pfister Sommelier

Todays lesson, “Don’t Be Scared of the Sommelier.”

Don’t be scared of the Sommelier.  I may be a salesperson, but my ultimate goal is to find the right wine for the right guest.  Here is some simple advise on how to order a bottle of wine when dining out, in 10 easy steps.

1.  Decide if you are looking for something comforting and familiar or new and different to you.
2.  Red, white or bubbles?
3.  What words are most appealing to you?  Dry or sweet?  Light or rich?  Earthy or fruity?
4.  What price point do you want to be in?
5.  Are you interested in pairing your meal to your wine, or not so much?
6.  If you feel daunted by the foreign name of a certain wine, simply give the bin number, or point to it on the list.
7.  Tell us what wines you have had before and enjoyed.
8.  When the bottle arrives, check out the label to ensure that this is the same wine that you requested.
9. When we put a cork in front of you, you don’t have to do anything except verify that the name on the cork is the same as the one on the label (if applicable…not all corks are branded).  Smelling the cork looks silly and won’t give you any insight to your wine.
10. As you taste your sample sip that we pour for you, be on the lookout for these aromas: burnt rubber, cooked cabbage, musty basement, wet cardboard, and mold.   A new bottle of wine will be brought out to replace the funky one.   We don’t want you to suffer those horrible smells!

Enjoying wine is supposed to be fun, not work.  Let us help you sift through the list and find the perfect match for you!

-Heather Kanter-Kowal

Heather Kanter-Kowal

Shelby Keefe: 30 paintings in 30 days [VIDEO]

With any form of artistic expression, viagra the importance of daily practice promotes the mastering of techniques. The practice of creating a Painting a Day, which was introduced by artist Duane Keiser in 2004, sickness for the purpose of selling his work through an Internet blog, has led to a movement of artists who thrive in this discipline.

The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin approached Shelby Keefe and asked her if she would be willing to participate in this 30 paintings, 30 days challenge, and Shelby jumped at the opportunity.

Shelby is fast at work on her first of the “30 Paintings in 30 Days.”

Shelby is still looking to her fans for visual inspiration. Her approach is to paint the figure in an urban landscape but she needs some extra photos to choose from. Send your photos to, but first, Shelby has some criteria she would like you to follow. The theme here is “People in Urban Landscapes.”

Shelby Keefe: 30 paintings in 30 days from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

Still Accepting Submissions for 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Shelby is fast at work on her first of the “30 Paintings in 30 Days.”Shelby is still looking to her fans for visual inspiration. Her approach is to paint the figure in an urban landscape but she needs some extra photos to choose from.

Send your photos to, but first, Shelby has some criteria she would like you to follow.

Example of an ideal submission

The theme here is “People in Urban Landscapes.” So please try and follow the following criteria.

1. People focused yet in an urban setting – Being figurative, the people are the subject but they will not be painted in any detail with no telling identifiers. (ie people walking down the street, people talking at an intersection, or people enjoy coffee on a cafe patio

2. Urban Landscape – Looking at Shelby’s previous work, you can see the talent she has in painting urban architecture. So see if you photo can include some buildings or city skyline in the background.  Ideally it would be best if it were kept regional to Milwaukee.

3. Please do not submit photos of posed people in front of landmarks or backgrounds.  The people aren’t the direct focus, they are just part of a whole.

4. Please remember to include your name and email in the submission, so if Shelby chooses one of your images, we can get you your keepsake image.

So send in your pictures to and help provide some inspiration to Shelby and as a thank you, if she selects one of your photos to paint, she’ll also provide a digital print that you can have as a keepsake.

Good luck everyone, we can’t wait to see the submissions.

Meet n’ Greet with Pfister Staff. Do you know your Cafe Barista’s?

It’s time for Meet n’ Greets with the Pfister Staff again. We took a little break but we are back with a great crew this time.  Do you know your Café at the Pfister Baristas? Please meet Natalie,Roy, and Sam, this great group gets in extra early to make sure that you get your morning fix of java.

How long have you worked at the Pfister?  Natalie-4 months, Roy-6 months, Sam-6 months

Why do you like best about working at the Pfister Hotel?

 Natalie: The people I work with are a lot of fun and all of the interesting guests.
: Everyone who works here is really nice.  I get to meet a lot of people and its great working downtown.
Sam: I love that everyone is so friendly and helpful with everything.

What is your favorite Pfister memory or experience?

Natalie: Working downtown during all the festivals.        
Roy: Working during the big dance competition.                   
Sam: New memories are created all the time, I can’t just pick one.

Tell us something we may not know about you?

Natalie: I actually worked as a barista at the Grand Geneva Resort before coming here.
Roy: I won a limbo contest this summer in Las Vegasat the Palms, I won a great prize and felt special.
Sam: I used to have a pet pig named Duke, he once ate a pair of my glasses.

 What is the oddest/weirdest request that you have ever received from a guest?

All together: Extra Dry-Decaf-Half Soy-Half Ski-Four Shot Cappuccino

Thank you so much Natalie, Roy, and Sam for participating in our Meet n’ Greet sessions.  Look forward to hearing from more Pfister Staff on the Pfister Blog.

Natalie, Roy, and Sam

30 Paintings in 30 Days begins….now

Shelby Keefe: Pfister Artist in Residence


MILWAUKEE – Sept. 19, no rx 2011 – Beginning today, The Pfister Hotel’s Artist in Residence, Shelby Keefe, will be creating a painting a day for 30 straight days. The works will be featured at The Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin at a show this fall. The public is invited to visit Keefe in her studio at the hotel to witness her 30-day challenge firsthand.

“Any time one practices their art on a daily basis, stuff whether it be music, writing or painting, as is my case, they are bound to improve their craft,” said Keefe. “With this challenge, I plan to develop finer skills and learn by daily practice what it’s like to bring the human form into urban landscapes without literal interpretations and specific characteristics.”

Keefe has asked the public to help her find inspiration for the paintings. From now until the end of the 30 days, the public is invited to send her people-focused or urban landscape photos for consideration. Photos can be sent to If she chooses one of your photos to paint, you’ll receive a digital print of the finished piece as a keepsake.

In addition to her show in Fish Creek, Keefe will be displaying some of her paintings from the challenge during the October Gallery Night at The Pfister, from 5-9pm on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. The hotel will also host a reception that night, open to the public from 9-11:30pm in Café Pfister.

Home to more Victorian-style art than any other hotel in the world, the historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is in its third year hosting a celebrated artist-in-residence program. Keefe moved into the Pfister’s studio space in April 2011, replacing former Pfister artist Katie Musolff, and will remain at the hotel for one year.

A contemporary impressionistic painter, teacher and performance artist, Keefe was born in Whitewater, Wis., and graduated in 1981 from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Since retiring from a career in graphic design in 2005, she has been operating her own art studio and exhibition space in Bay View. Her award-winning urban landscape paintings have earned her participation in prestigious national juried shows, plein air painting competitions and arts festivals, as well as garnering commission work for a variety of corporate clients and private collectors.

 The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence Program

Entering its third year, The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working art studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of each piece firsthand.

For more information on The Pfister’s Artist-In-Residence program, visit The Pfister can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @PfisterHotel.

Joseph Phelps Wine Dinner in Mason Street Grill

Join Chris St. Marie, National Sales Manager for Joseph Phelps Vineyards, as he guides you through an exquisitely prepared six-course dinner. The meal will be carefully paired with six elegant wines, including Insignia, from the vineyard. Throughout each course, guests are educated about these delectable, complementary pairings that bring out the distinct, delicious flavors in each culinary creation.

Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, Joseph Phelps bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards in 1973. The winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced. Nearly four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Dinner: 6:30 p.m.

$95.00 per person (tax and gratuity not included)

Please RSVP by calling 414.298.3131 or email before october 13. And let us know you’re coming on Facebook.

Time Lapse Painting with Shelby Keefe

We’re honored to have such talent within our midst. Shelby is not only a very talented painter but she’s also pretty quick at it, too.

Enjoy the artistic process the went into “Waning on the Day” by Shelby Keefe.

Visit​artistinresidence to learn more about Shelby Keefe.

Wine Swirls again, with the Pfister Sommelier

My name is Heather Kanter-Kowal and I am the Certified Sommelier and Assistant Manager of the Mason Street Grill in the Historic Pfister Hotel.  This is the first post in a series about wine that I will be sharing with the Pfister community.  We will discuss different wine regions of the world, patient how to taste & evaluate wine, wine & food pairings, how to open a bottle of Champagne (safely!), and many other fun wine related topics.

A little bit of background about me… I started my career in hospitality twelve years ago here at the Pfister Hotel.  While working in Blu as a bartender when it first opened, nurse I realized that I would really need to learn a thing or two about wine if I was going to succeed in dazzling my guests on a nightly basis.  I ran out to pick up a few basic books about wine (and quite a few bottles!), doctor and spent my free hours teaching myself how to understand the wide world of wine.  My career took me to restaurants such as Osteria del Mondo, where Italian vino ruled the list, and Trocadero, which had an entirely French collection.  Along the way, I realized how much I truly enjoyed sharing the information that I had learned with my friends, colleagues, and most of all- my guests.

I studied for the Court of Master Sommeliers tests, which were an intense set of written, practical wine service and the most daunting of them all, the blind tasting tests.  I passed the introductory exam in Traverse City, MI and passed the Certified Exam four months later in Orlando, FL.  Becoming a Certified Sommelier opened the doors for me to work at the Immigrant Restaurant in the American Club of Kohler, WI, where I spent several years managing a vast international collection of lovely wines.

This past February, I was quite delighted to return “home” to the Pfister Hotel, and join the team at the Mason Street Grill.  I am excited to talk to our guests about wineries that they have been to, what wines would taste great with their meals, and to recommend where they can find their new favorite wines.  We are also hosting seasonal wine events, such as the Blackbird Vineyards Launch Party this September 26th and the Joseph Phelps Vineyards dinner on October 20th.

I look forward to sharing some unpretentious and useful wine advice with you!


Heather Kanter-Kowal

Heather Kanter-Kowal