I find that engaging in what I refer to as "Sunday Fundays" is a great way to wind down the weekend and get ready for a new week. Maybe it's the weather, but they tend to increase in frequency in the springtime. Luckily for me, a number of local restaurants host wine tastings on Sunday afternoons. Learning about and enjoying wine most certainly qualifies as a first-rate Sunday Funday activity.
When I heard about a new series of wine tastings organized by Tasho Katsoboulas of Kats Wine and Spirits (921 E. Fortification St., 601-983-KATS, http://www.katswine.com) and Patrick Kelly of Julep Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-1411), I couldn't wait to attend. The format for this series of tastings—all of which feature tasty food along with wines rated at 90 points or higher—is that of a "wine social," rather than a formal tasting format where a sommelier talks about each glass as attendees taste them. So, it's educational but like a party.
Sign me up.
On Feb. 27, the day of the event, I was happy that my companion and I ran into some friends on the way in. Knowing that we'd have interesting conversation along with good wine started things off right, but then it got even better. Like any good social event, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly (a NV Montsarra Brut, for those of you curious). Patrick is clearly a man of my own mindset. When discussing the wine, he used one of my own catchphrases: "Bubbles make everything better." He meant it in the context of pairing sparkling wines with food, but I subscribe to it as a good theory in general.
Before we began tasting, Tasho and Patrick talked to the group a bit, and Tasho passed out some educational material on the wines that included tasting exercises to try along the way, such as comparing moderately weighted to more heavily weighted wines to get a feel for body as a wine component. After that, we were free to taste the eight wines offered at our own pace and enjoy each other's company, going to get our next glass only when we were ready. Patrick and Tasho made their way around to the tables during the social as well, so we could ask questions one-on-one.
Julep's new event space provided a great setting for the social. Some folks sat at tables, but given the laid-back format (no wine snobbery allowed), some folks stood and mingled the whole time. Our table followed along with the tasting exercises and made notes of our favorites, so I left with a good list of some new bottles to purchase for home.
You know, dear readers, that I love wine, so I'm looking forward to the next tasting in this series (unannounced as of this writing), and to a number of other opportunities this spring for wine tasting. If you're new to exploring wine, tastings are a fun and easy way to discover what you like and what you don't in an unintimidating environment, so find one to attend. Find information on the Kats-Julep series at http://www.katswine.com.
Meanwhile, Local 463 (121-A Colony Crossing, Madison, 601-707-7684, local463.com) is teaming up with Scott Jackson of Colony Wine Market (121-B Colony Crossing, Madison, 601-898-1075, colonywinemarket.com) to host a series of tastings on Local 463's patio on Saturday afternoons.
I also look forward to tastings at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, http://www.bravobuzz.com) with Mitchell Earrey and, of course, the Sante South Wine Festival (http://www.santesouth.com) in April, which benefits the Alzheimer's Association and features more than 120 wines. Olga's Fine Dining (4760 Interstate 55 N., Suite D, 601-366-1366) and Sombra Mexican Kitchen (1037 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950) have wine tastings coming up, too. So you've no excuse not to enjoy a tasting soon.
As Alexander Fleming (the man credited with discovering penicillin) said, "Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy."