If you’re curious about wine but don’t know where to start — or like wine and want to learn more — the best place to begin is at the informal drop-in tastings that several wine shops around town have every week.
I’ve encountered folks who shy away from these tastings because they think the events will be a snooty affair and they’ll suffer some sort of public humiliation or embarrassment from the snobs standing around swirling their glasses with their pinkies in the air.
Here’s how these tastings work: Stores usually have four or five bottles available for sampling. The price of each taste depends on the price of the bottle, but usually it’s a buck or two. You’re not expected to try all the wines, there’s no pressure to buy the wines you taste, and there’s a “dump bucket” to discard wines you didn’t care for, or if you don’t want to finish your glass for any reason. You don’t have to stand there and make small talk while you’re sipping — you can walk around and look at the wines.
The shops that do this include but are not limited to both Arrows, all three Dorothy Lane Markets, Jay’s, the Little Store, the Emporium, Cuvee (formerly Cindy’s), Grapes of Ruth, and more (if you know of others, by all means, have them post their wine-tasting information on this site, as a comment to this entry, and keep ‘em coming). Days and times vary, so check with your favorite retailer. Some restaurants are also getting in on the trend.
This Saturday (Sept. 24) offers a special opportunity. Both Arrow Wine and Spirits stores (Lyons Road in Centerville and the Far Hills store in Kettering) are having a “Super Saturday” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will offer at least 20 wines for sampling. Arrow invites four or five wine distributors to come in and bring four or five wines. There is no charge for admission, and each sample is priced based on how expensive the wine is. Try just one, or walk around and select what you want. Unless you have a designated driver — heck, even if you DO have a designated driver — don’t try all 20.
It’s a golden opportunity to learn and discover.