Chef/restaurateur John Varanese, long known for his special dinners, is giving his kitchen staffs a special workout next week, with three such dinners. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, at Varanese, 2106 Frankfort Ave., he will serve his annual Tradition vs. Innovation wine dinner, matching pairing of Old World and New World wines with each course. Wednesday, Feb. 22, will see a reprise of his recent Progressive Dinner, with dishes served at each of his three restaurants in turn. And on Tuesday, Feb. 28, he will celebrate the first anniversary of Levee at the River House with a tasting of premium Napa Valley wines, served with assorted appetizers.

The Tradition vs. Innovation Wine Dinner featuring 6 courses, each paired with 2 wines – an Old World (traditional) wine and a New World (innovative) wine. John Johnson, sommelier and owner of The Wine Rack, and Aaron Dawkins, Certified Specialist of Wine, and representative of Republic National Distributors will be at the dinner to discuss the wine selections. This dinner with the wine pairings will be $75.Call (502) 899-9904 or email

The Progressive Dinner on Wednesday will feature cocktails make with Maker’s Mark Bourbon. The dinner will start at River House Restaurant and Raw Bar, 3015 River Rd., with appetizers and a Maker’s Mark cocktail. The Mint Julep Tours shuttle will then take diners to Varanese on Frankfort Ave. for a Maker’s 46 cocktail and a choice entrées from the regular Varanese menu. The shuttle will then return diners to Levee at the River House, for dessert paired with a Maker’s Mark Cask Strength cocktail and live entertainment.

There will be three seatings, at 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., or 7 p.m. Cost of this Progressive Dinner will be $70.

The tasting of Iconic Wines of Napa Valley on Tuesday, Feb. 28 is limited to 75 persons. Levee at the River House, 3015 River Rd., will be opening wines from the restaurant’s high-end reserve list for this “special, one night only tasting adventure.” Participants will get 1 ounce pours each from 5 selections, with the opportunity to order a 3 ounce pour for an additional cost, ranging in price from $28 to $68. Chef John Varanese will serve assorted appetizers to enhance the tasting,  including smoked salmon crostini, beef carpaccio baguette, bacon wrapped scallops, tempura fried shrimp, quail legs. assorted chocolate bites and vegetable crudités and assorted cheeses.

This event begins at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $98. Call Event Coordinator, Donna, at (502) 897-5000 or email