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Recap: Vinoteca Wine Tasting

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You know you’re getting old when you go to a wine tasting class and actually pay attention. Instead of just guzzling down the pours at the Vinoteca happy hour last Tuesday evening, I sat upstairs, enraptured. This means I am officially old.

I wasn’t expecting this, though. A friend invited me to the first class of the four-part fall series, and I accepted, thinking, Girls’ Night Out! Instead, the three of us sat on the couch, wine glasses in hand, completely enthralled by Mike, the instructor-slash-wine-distributor who seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of vino trivia.

We were swirling, people. Swirling the wine.

Photo credit: Vinoteca
Photo credit: Vinoteca

You see, Vinoteca, the lovely little bottomless brunch spot on the corner of U Street and 11th, has a secret. It’s been playing host to these wine classes in its secret upstairs room for years, and not many people actually know about this treasure.

The upstairs of Vinoteca (yes, the stairs behind the curtain actually do go somewhere) is nothing but wine storage and some couches in a lounge … a lounge that also houses a random vintage baby grand. The room is dark and cozy, and there’s not much space for more than 15 people. In this intimate setting, you get an almost one-on-one instruction on wine. I certainly asked my fair share of annoying questions.

Photo credit: Vinoteca
Photo credit: Vinoteca

The class I went to that evening was on “Wine 101.” And after drinking wine for years, and independently determining what I like and don’t like, I have to say that I learned more that evening than I have in all those years of boozing. Say, did you know, that the shape of the bottle is an indication of whether the varietal is from Burgundy or Bordeaux?

Or how about that the oak barrels (if the wine is indeed fermented in an oak barrel—otherwise it can be in stainless steel) can only be from France or America: and where they’re from definitely make an impact on the wine’s taste? Oh, and the level of toasting within the barrels. Yeah, that counts, too, apparently.

Photo credit: Vinoteca
Photo credit: Vinoteca

Or how about the real difference between a cabernet sauvignon (the grapes are crushed so the skins stay in the wine) and a pinot noir (the grapes are popped so you just get the juice, no skins)? Yeah I didn’t know that either.

I mean, really, I was sort of enchanted. And each glass of the six wines we tried was paired with a lovely bite of food from the chef downstairs. Plus, in the end, any of the wine not poured is left for the class to finish up.

Photo credit: Vinoteca
Photo credit: Vinoteca

The next class is next Tuesday, the 25th, on sparkling wines—a Bitches’ favorite. After that, there’s an “Old World vs. New World” on Oct. 2, and a look at “South American Reds” on Oct. 9. Call 202-332-9463 for rezzies.

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