I have been conducting wine tastings for a while now. I can’t remember when they started, but during the winter months, I provide a monthly tasting at the gym where I am a Spinning instructor. They are informal affairs since, after all, they occur immediately following a Spinning class and most people (including me) show up to the tasting rather sweaty (I admit that it sounds a bit disgusting, but in my book, a little B.O. is far better than some cheesy cologne at a wine tasting).
If I had to estimate, I figure I have done somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty or so of these “Sip and Spin” wine tastings (yes, I hate the name, but I never got around to changing it). I usually try to center the tasting around a theme, but given a rather tight budget and the expectation that there will be plenty of wine, well, let’s just day we are not drinking a ton of Grand Cru Burgundy. I try to make the tastings educational, but the members of the gym seem to see it as more of a social gathering, so I tend to ease up a bit on the “knowledge” end of things.
For the past several months, I have been serving as a wine consultant of sorts for a local restaurant, Fare on Fairmount Avenue. I have known the owner for several years and when he hired a new manager of the restaurant, he got the two of us together, hoping that I would take a look at the wine program and provide a little direction and guidance. I thought it would be fun and who knows? Maybe this would lead me down a different career path altogether (although that was by no means a goal)….
After a few months of going over the wine list, reorganizing it a bit, and bringing in a few distributors and some new wines, the manager decided it was time to have a “wine dinner” at the restaurant and asked if I would be willing to run the wine side of the event.
So last night was the event, and by all accounts it went very well. We had hoped to have thirty or so attendees, but after a few last-minute cancellations, we ended up with half that (which actually might have been a good thing since the restaurant was packed).
I was a bit limited in the wines that I could choose for the event—the restaurant did not want to invest too heavily in wines for the new venture and getting wine in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is arduous at best. PA is a “control state” which means the state controls just about every aspect of liquor sales—restaurants must buy their wine from the state, which charges restaurants retail for the wine.
(I was about to go down the rabbit hole of criticizing the State-run liquor monopoly again, but I will save that for a Friday Rant somewhere down the road.)
In the end, I decided to highlight some of the wines that the restaurant has on their “By the Glass” menu for the dinner, and it seemed to work out swimmingly. The wines were by no means “world-beaters” but they did work well with the dishes (even after a couple of last-minute changes to the menu…).
2013 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais
2013 Montoya Pinot Noir Monterey
2012 Guenoc Chardonnay Lake County
2012 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge Dry Creek Valley
Conde de Subirats Cava Rosé
As I mentioned, the event went well and there is talk about making this a monthly occurrence. So if you are in Philadelphia or ever plan to be….