How To Drink On The Cheap

I went to a Katrina charity tasting the other night hosted by two of my favorite neighborhood establishments- a local wine shop and a lovely restaurant. It was a great night, with good folks, good wines, good food, and a good cause, and I happily ponied up the dosh to be a part of it. And at the end of the night, it was a bargain for what we had- I got a to taste a great variety of wines, most of which would have been priced more per bottle in a restaurant than what I paid for the whole night.

But there are bargains, and then there’s free. It’s pretty common to see free tastings at wine shops around here. Many shops advertise these on their web sites, offer to add you to their email lists, or have a schedule printed up by the counter. The best of these types of tastings give you a chance to put things into some sort of context- comparing wines from a specific region, wines that are made from the same varietal, or various wines from the same producer.

In addition to store tastings, there are wine dinners, special events open to the public, and “to the trade” events. Sites like can help immensely. They’ve got RSS feeds for dozens of different cities. Stick whatever’s closest in your aggregator.

Often, the dinners and special events are pricey. But sometimes they’re worth the indulgence, and often they’re a bargain of sorts- often for just a bit more what you’d pay for a nice meal and a nice bottle you’ll get to try a larger variety.

But the “to the trade” events can be killer. Hundreds of wines, and generally free. Got a blog? Head to your local print shop and make some business cards. Voila, you’re trade. Start crashing those portfolio tastings, and learn to spit!


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