Sorella offers free wine all the time! (well, almost)


If you saw the movie Sideways, you know the drill: Swish, sniff, sip. Now repeat. But, you don't need to take a road trip through California wine country to get your samples, why not wine taste on your way home from work today?

You can drive into the parking garage at Sorella Wines & Spirits in Minneapolis, and sip (and maybe buy?) wine before heading home. Every Friday and Saturday from 2:00 to 8:00 pm, visitors can peruse the store and taste (for free!) an assortment of five to eleven wines. The store's wines are arranged by location, so you can sip and walk through 'Australia', 'Italy', or 'California'. And we're not talking little plastic cups, either; Sorella goes the extra step by providing Riedel crystal for their tastings. There are pitchers for pouring out the undesirable samples you don't want to finish, and water to rinse your glass and clear your palate in between samples.

On a recent visit to Sorella, I swished and swirled my crystal to taste champagnes, sparkling wines, and reds. One of my favorites was a Santo Stefano Moscato d'Asti ($15.97). This is a super-sweet (almost syrupy), golden-colored wine -- great if you like dessert wine (or want to start liking dessert wine). Another intriguing find was a Chilean red called Escudo Rojo ($11.97). This blend of four different grapes had an intensely peppery smell (that good ol' sniff!), but not an overpowering peppery taste. The great thing about wine tastings is that all the fine-tuning is done for you. For instance, the Escudo Rojo had been uncorked two hours before serving to allow the flavors to open up just right.

Warning: too much wine tasting can lead to blurry vision (and blurry photos!)

Sorella employees are on hand to answer questions like, "I'm cooking spicy food for dinner, what wine goes with that?" to, "I'm trying to romance my girlfriend, uhhh, what did you say the alcohol content of this was?". And don't worry, you don't need to feel squeamish about price range. The Sorella staff is happy to point you in the direction of more affordable versions of what you're tasting. (Trust me -- been there, done that.)

I like the spirit of wine tastings - people seem to savor "the drink and be merry" approach to life. As I stood in the store, sipping a champagne sample, a man nearby said, "People say you should drink champagne to celebrate. Well, if you wake up and can take a breath, you have a reason to celebrate."