They come in suits and in jeans; with friends and by themselves; just after work and on their days off — and the wine draws them in. But there’s a lot more to a wine tasting than the substance in your glass. Tastings are about people, too.
The genius of a tasting, of course, is that everything is complimentary. That goes for the information, too. Want to know what’s the best wine to pair with that balsamic chicken recipe? Chances are high that you aren’t the only one who wants to know the answer, so ask away.
Our go-to wine shop is The Winetree at 1951 Washington Ave. If we have a unique recipe, manager Ron Hull will likely be able to steer us toward a bottle that fits both our tastes and our budgets.
Hull also happens to select most of the Wednesday night tasting wines. Once, close to Christmas a couple of years ago, he lined up five bottles of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. Other nights, he’s started with a light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc before edging participants toward a richer Chardonnay. He’s mixed in Chilean Malbec and an Italian red blend, ending the lineup with various kinds of port. The deliberately varied tastings let us decide what we like based on our own flavor sensitivities — not someone else’s. It also beats taking a chance on an entire bottle of wine, only to find out it’s too acidic for our tastes, or too tannic.
Aside from the wine, tastings also happen to be a great way to meet people. We’ve talked social studies with a substitute teacher and travel with a city utility worker. We’ve discussed the best local places to bird-watch, and to hunt, with a local business owner. And we’ve met neighbors we didn’t know we had, friends of friends we’ve seen elsewhere, but just couldn’t place. The wine has a lot to do with that.
Plus, we’ve learned a few things about how to make a tasting work for us. First, don’t brush your teeth before you have a glass of wine. The sugar in the toothpaste impacts your ability to accurately judge what you sip. Second, perfume and cologne can affect how you and others experience a wine, since taste is highly influenced by what we smell. Third, understand that state law limits the amount of free wine you’re able to imbibe on the premises. Fourth, have fun. Wine tastings are about learning new things with new people. And if you’re nervous, don’t worry: Everyone else is, too.
Winetree’s tastings are Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. Varsity Liquors, 687 N. Green River Road, offers tastings on Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. Winzerwald Winery’s Evansville Tasting Room, 2021 W. Franklin St., offers tastings Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m.