Reading Meritage's wine list is like taking a wine mini-course. It's got colored maps and history and appellations and definitions. Plus, it has really, really good wines. Wine director Nicolas Giraud is charged with finding wines designed in the Old World style that work with James Beard Award-nominated chef Russell Klein's food. Within that range, Giraud has crafted a world of wine, with bottles from Europe and the United States, and, in a charming grace note, has included a small shelf from Lebanon and Israel. The list of roughly 200 wines reflects Giraud's years of sipping and comparing wines in Paris and Provence, including a stint at Alain Ducasse's L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de La Celle, and at the Twin Cities' other favorite French restaurant, Vincent. Of special interest are the lip-smacking, palate-pleasing wines — all French — Giraud recommends as complements to chef Klein's stunning oyster program. Giraud has included the requisite wallet-slappers, such as a $695 bottle of 1999 Château Mouton Rothschild, 1er Cru Classé (and at least once in a lifetime, worthy of a memorable night). But his wines-by-the-glass program is compelling in its quality. No stingy five or so wines here with all the interesting wines by the bottle; the current list offers 26 wines. They are priced well enough that the curious drinker can compare a chardonnay from France and one from California or a pinot noir from Burgundy and the Willamette Valley. Want more than a mini-course? Giraud periodically offers a series of wine-tasting classes.