The taste of something new

It’s Saturday night, the middle of the weekend for most college students beginning the hedonistic pursuit of extracurricular activities at the conclusion of class on Thursday. You look over at your best friend, roommate or significant other and ask the question that rarely gets a solid answer. “What do you want to do?”

And so begins the cycle of indecision that plagues so many.

I have fallen victim to this line of circular questioning numerous times, but on Saturday I made a conscious effort to break out of the cliche and try something new. After much thought, it came to me: wine tasting.

Wine seems so classy and rich – when I think of it, images come to mind of people sitting together in some opulent restaurant sipping ancient grape juice from crystal stemware. There is status associated with the ability to read a wine list. It’s a neat way to impress people and a helpful socializing skill. The decadence associated with wine also led me to believe that my budget would not afford me an education in the school of the vine.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this is not the case. In my search, I happened to spot a small sign in front of the Wine Warehouse on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard that read, “Wine Tasting 5-7 p.m.”

Never having gone to a wine tasting, I wanted to learn about wine but knew little. With these facts in mind, the thought of attending a tasting seemed both a bit pretentious and a little intimidating. I contemplated my other options and, in defiance of the norm, quickly stepped through the door and into the alien world of aged grape juice.

Once inside, I was pleased by the layout of the place. The racks of bottles are arranged by type. A few of the wines have small information cards in front of them. These cards contain a description of the wine and sometimes have a score that the wine received from a publication such as Wine Spectator.

The staff was very friendly. While the employees are very knowledgeable, their approach to wine is casual and even funny at times.

After paying $5, I was given a glass and a piece of paper with a heading on it that read, “Wine Tasting Notes.” The paper gave the name, price and composition of the six different wines in the tasting. As I walked toward the tiled bar in the back of the store, the fears I had about facing stuffy wine-crazed elitists dissipated.

I placed my glass on the bar and a smiling, pleasant woman asked me if I was ready for the first wine. I said yes and she filled my glass with Le Fruitier Jardin, a wine with a gold tint. I looked around, inhaled deeply from my glass and took my first sip. It tasted good, interesting and unique.

The woman told me what to look for as far as flavor, and with her guidance, I began to understand what it means to enjoy wine. The process was repeated with two more white wines and three red wines. The woman behind the bar continued to make jokes and talk about the wine in an informal tone.

I finished the last wine on the list and decided to purchase a bottle of one of the varietals I had tried. The mantra of the Wine Warehouse is “Never pay retail again.” Many of their highly rated bottles are priced below $10. A bottle of Belvedere Jest Red set me back $9.29 with tax.

As I walked out, reflecting on the events that had just transpired, I was satisfied with my choice. At $ 5 dollars, the price was perfect. Not only was I happy, I had just taken my first step in a journey toward culture.