Thursday, August 27, 2009


On Julie's recommendation, I joined the WineScool Meetup Group, which meets monthly at Starters Riverport. Last night was the first time I attended any kind of Meetup group event - a wine "school" that taught/reminded us how to taste wine (but we didn't need any help learning how to drink it). I registered online and could see who else was going in advance.

When I showed up, I saw my friend Christine, and the two of us found a seat at a table with Julie, her boyfriend Jake, and their friend, Kim. Soon our little group was surrounded by friendly people on either side. The instructor, a rep from a company that imports and distributes the wine we tasted, talked over loud sports bar noise about the wines we were tasting, where they were made, and how to pair them with food.

We started with a Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Barbara. Flavors of grapefruit and freshly cut grass, we were told - hmm. We all helped ourselves to the generous buffet and moved on to an Italian Pinot Grigio from a winemaker called Bollini. Round Hill's Oak-Free Chardonnay was next (definitely more my speed than the buttery, toasty chardonnays from Napa and Sonoma Valleys). We enjoyed a glass of Malbec from Elsa, made in Argentina (which we learned is made from mostly cabernet sauvignon grapes), and finished back in California with a bold Cabernet called The Show, from Three Thieves. The last wine was definitely my favorite.

After dinner and five half-glasses of wine, we were feeling pretty good, so we all had dessert (included). Note the empty bottle in the foreground of this photo. We left just before 10 p.m. and there were quite a few people still hanging out, finishing the open bottles. Not bad for $25! This kind of group would be great for anyone looking to meet people in a social environment, without the pressure of making awkward introductions. Everyone there is game to meet new people. The only problem with an event that is structured like this is that you only really get to meet the folks seated near you. Meetup groups like the ones for pet owners or people who enjoy outdoors activities are probably better for mass mingling, but groups like these are great for people like me who enjoy small-group conversation.

Most of the crowd appeared to be in their 30's and 40's, and maybe a couple were older, and a few younger. It was hard to tell who came with who, since conversation seemed to be flowing at all the tables as if everyone were old friends. The next WineScool is September 23 at 7 p.m. at Starters - register here and check out the other Meetup groups while you're on the site.

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