What better way to spend a weekend afternoon than sipping – and learning about – wine? City Wine Tours makes it happen with small groups, a friendly, knowledgeable guide and select venues in hip neighborhoods, in both New York and Boston. A must for visitors and locals alike.
An “experience” rather than a “thing,” it’s a great holiday gift, perfect for anyone with even the slight interest in wine, from millennials to boomers. Believe me, they’ll toast you with the first pour. Nothing wrong with gifting yourself, either (and this post offers a discount coupon).
I wouldn’t recommend anything I hadn’t tried, so here’s how my tour went:
A New Yorker, I chose the West Village tour; it was both fun and enlightening and came away with a deeper understanding of wine and its mysteries. Enjoying the discovery in the companionship of others with a similar curiosity was part of the pleasure, as was the agreeable buzz at the end. Not a bad Saturday afternoon…..
We met at A.O.C. a wonderful French bistro restaurant I’d been to before and, as an aside, heartily recommend.
Awaiting the group of twelve I met our “wine ambassador,” Justin Miller, who brought passion, deep knowledge, and frank answers to our questions. As a wine industry professional, his credentials lent gravitas to his presentation but in no way did he interject any promotional bias. A real pro.
Appropriately, we started off tasting a bit of France with a lovely sparkling wine, a Crémant from the Loire Valley.
Justin demonstrated the proper way to remove a “cage” from a sparkling wine; six turns – always six – will do it.
Platters of charcuterie accompanied the tasting, along with olives and cornichons to add an acidic bite as we tasted our way through the sparkling Chenin Blanc, a crisp white from Alsace, and ended with a light Pinot Noir.
A leisurely hour packed with info, infused with conversation and sparkling and still wine – and we were off to our second venue, Carma, an Asian tapas place on Carmine Street.
On the way over, in the fading afternoon light, we picked up the vibe of the West Village, one of the New York’s most charming neighborhoods.
And here we arrived to further tasting, creatively paired with vegetarian and meat dumplings….
Justin encouraged questions from the group and shared his informed opinion. As we anticipated the prosecco, he opined on the common use of a flute, or narrow glass for sparkling wines….
Which gave way to more questions of the subtleties of wine glasses; how to hold; hints on what to look for (and not over-pay). I don’t want to give away all the secrets, but the bottom line is traditional stemmed wine glasses will suffice for all occasions – and Justin knows what he’s talking about.
We moved on to a robust Malbec – my personal favorite. Paired with dumplings? I wouldn’t have guessed.
We had a great group: I, along with a friend, represented the curious boomer generation; there were couples, friends, just for fun or celebrating joyous birthdays.
Surely every tour takes on a life of its own, and our group dynamic was very inquisitive. But here’s a sample of what I learned in the brief 2 hours:
- The art of the “swirl”;
- The truth about wine “legs” on a glass;
- Broad-stroke guidelines for food and wine pairing;
- Fat (in food) is negated by acid in wine (good for arteries, but doesn’t alter calorie count, sorry);
- The hierarchy of wine labels and how to decipher;
- The impact of location, climate, soil (the “terroir”) – why Malbec from South America is so different from French Malbec, from where it hails;
- Wine storage, before and after opening;
- De-mystifying new packaging trends – boxed or canned;
- Wine glasses; what you need and what you don’t
- Encouragement to experiment and have fun!!!
This post contains an affiliate code.
Featured image courtesy of City Wine Tours.
©2016 3 Score and More