One of my favorite group of folks to hang out with are sommeliers. First of all, they are in the business of making people happy and generally speaking, they're pretty good at it. Because they know an awful lot about wine, I almost always learn something from them.
Since you might only get a few moments consulting with a sommelier or wine director in a busy restaurant or wine bar, taking a class from them is a great way to absorb even more wine smarts.
Recently I attended a class at the SOMA wine bar District. Wine director Caterina Mirabelli is just a terrific person to spend your time with on a lazy Saturday afternoon. She's smart, friendly, enthusiastic and has a real eye for quality not to mention value when it comes to wine. She's also not afraid to buck the trends. I love the way she describes certain wines-- Pinot is an elegant lady or Zinfandel is a big bruiser. Her classes are interactive, small scale and include a brunch buffet.
Upcoming September classes at District include French Pinot (Burgundy) vs Pinots from around the world and a brunch featuring pate, French charcuterie, and foie gras.
In October learn about Italian Wines & Truffles and the brunch will include truffles.
Classes including brunch are $75, check out the event listings at District for more information and to purchase tickets.
What: Brunch with Caterina, wine classes
Where: District, 216 Townsend St, San Francisco
When: 12 - 2 pm, weekends, September - October 2008
How: Class and brunch, $75 tickets available online.
Another fun upcoming wine event is the Wine & Dating workshop hosted by Liza the Wine Chick, wine educator and Annie Gleason, dating coach of Get a Love Life. Learn about wine, business etiquette and body language in this engaging workshop.
What: a Fun Night of Wine and Dating Workshops wine and nibbles included
Where: 41A Sanchez St, San Francisco
When: 6 - 8 pm September 24, 2008
How: Tickets are $20, space is limited so email to reserve
I checked in with Liza to see if she'd share some love tips-- that is, wines she has fallen for lately. Here are her picks:
1) Château La Moulinière 2007 Bordeaux rosé: It's summer and even if it's not hot in San Francisco it's still rosé season for me. This one is a rowdy and refreshing mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. About $15 retail.
2) Animus 2005 Douro: Because I am hopelessly in love with Portuguese wines and their unique flavor profile. This one is a blend of the traditional grapes used in Port and you can really taste them in the wine. It also has a cool, modern label. $15 a bottle.
3) Pineapple Riesling non-vintage: Yes, this sounds wacky but it's lovely and refreshing for summer and would be a great base for a spritzer or a cocktail. It can be found, or shipped from, one 36 Vintner's Cellars locations, $18.
4) LaRocca 2005 Syrah: This rich, chewy, fruit-forward wine is certified organic (which you rarely see due to complex laws) and $19.
5) Mt. Difficulty 2006 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir: How can you not love a wine that may taste even better than its more expensive sibling and hails from one of the most exciting Pinot Noir producing areas in the world-- Central Otago in New Zealand, $20.