3 GREAT WAYS to FREE YOUR INNER WINE GEEK

Sometimes, it’s hip to be square. And if you happen to enjoy nice wines to boot? Well then, it’s time to get with your inner wine geek, my friend. You might even learn some really cool stuff! I thought I’d share a few of my favorite resources for the wine lover in you. Whether you know a lot or a little, you’ll find here several of the most informative and enjoyable means to up your wine IQ.

VINE TALK

Who wouldn’t love to sit around a cozy table sipping wines and engaging in fun and easygoing conversation with the likes of Stanley Tucci, a few of his most intersting celebrity friends (Freakonomics author Stephen J. Dubner, designer Nanette Lepore, actors Patricia Clarkson and Steve Buscemi, chef Marcus Samuelsson, prolific author Gay Talese, and choreographer extraordinaire Tommy Tune, just to name a few), a rotating group of experienced sommeliers and the Executive Wine Editor for Food & Wine Magazine? If you’re secretly jumping up and down waving your hand in the air then Vine Talk is for you. If you just want to learn a little more about wine without feeling like you’re studying, then Vine Talk is for you too.

Each half-hour program profiles six top wines from a particular region. While Stanley and his cadre are blind tasting the wines and having a good chin wag, the live studio audience is blind tasting the same wines in an adjacent studio. At the end both groups come together, compare notes and reveal their favorite wines. It’s a very friendly and enjoyable way to spend a half hour and pick up some great wine tips in the process.

Don’t miss tapping into their website for handy wine information as well. Check out the “Wine Demystified” tab for quick info on everything from ordering wine, serving and storing your favorite bottles, to food pairings. Also, the “Episode List” alone is also a fine resource, offering insightful profiles of each region and handy tasting notes.

www.vinetalk.com Currently airing on local Public Television stations.

UNCORKED

This nifty little gem of a series is hosted by Ted Allen, Top Chef Judge and everyone’s favorite food and wine guy from Queer Eye. Equally enjoyable for novices as well as the more experienced wine lover, six episodes cover all you need to know to understand wine. The series strikes a fine balance, offering comprehensive information for those who are seeking it and rewarding any wine lover with a gratifying romp through the major wine making areas of France and California.

Ted Allen’s engaging narration takes the viewer on vicarious visits to vineyards speaking to growers and wine makers, tasting wine from barrels in wine caves of Burgundy and Sonoma, and getting the low down from local experts on the basics of wine, essentials of food and wine pairing, and wine making techniques. There is a wealth of information to be had in this series, as well as much enjoyment.

Available on DVD through Amazon.

ASTOR CENTER

I have come to love Astor Wines. I liked them before their move, but after attending a few events held in their new space I appreciate the scope and quality of what they offer on top of an impressive wine selection.

Beside hosting many cutting-edge speakers and events, they regularly hold all types of classes relating to wine, cocktails, food, cooking and wine pairing. Just a few that are on my radar at the moment: Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine: Not all Bubbles are Created Equal, Sommelier’s Secrets: Principles of Wine & Food Pairing, International Street Food Series: India: Hands-On Cooking & Wine Pairing.

Good stuff here, very diverse, progressive, fun and informative and a chance to commingle with like-minded souls. If you find yourself in Manhattan, I highly recommend checking them out, you won’t be disappointed.

This excerpt from their website sums it up well, “… we have built three unique spaces which together comprise a facility unlike anything else in the city – or the world, for that matter. We wanted to create an environment conducive to the sort of progressive thinking that has suited us so well in the past – to build a place that would facilitate exchanges between winemakers and wine drinkers; between Michelin-starred chefs and masters of the Manhattan apartment kitchen; between omnivores and herbivores; between legendary cookbook authors and razor-sharp restaurant bloggers; between politicians and pig farmers. More than just a place to take a wine class or watch a celebrity chef wield a blow-torch, at Astor Center we’re building a concept – a new approach to education, a new way of exchanging ideas, a new forum for discussing that which brings us together around the table.”

Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St. (at East 4th St.) NY, NY 10003 (212) 674-7501 http://www.astorcenternyc.com/

I hope you have fun exploring these avenues of cool wine geekyness! What are some of your favourite wine resources?

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