Hot and Cold Running Wine Ed.:
You can't swing a wine critic in this town lately without hitting a local wine class. Believe me, I've tried. For example, the Lexington, in conjunction with Big Top Wines & Spirits, is offering a five-part soup-to-nuts series that they say will give you everything you need to know to be conversant in wine, lickety-split. The class series runs as follows (all starting at 7:00 p.m.): September 9, basic intro; September 23, white wines; October 7, red wines; October 21, French and Italian; and November 4, Southern Hemisphere. The series costs $100; single classes can be purchased for $25. Call Nancy at Big Top to register, or for more information. Big Top Wines & Spirits, 1574 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.644.4501.
You know what there isn't enough of in the world? Vicious divisiveness. And so I introduce the topic sure to enflame the hearts of our medical and social working community: Might pregnant women have a glass of wine now and then? An informal survey of my friends reveals that the pregnant ones are sick and tired of being treated with the same zero-tolerance, zero-information policy to which crack addicts are treated, and can't help but notice that thousands of years' worth of Europeans seem to have had prenatal interplay with wine and beer without the whole continent's population wandering off into the ocean in slope-headed befuddlement.
There--that should get you all riled up. So report to wine shop Solo Vino on July 15 for a vastly more informed discussion, when Dr. Charles A. Haislet, father of Solo Vino co-owner Sam Haislet, and a longtime ob-gyn, will lead a class on the health benefits of wine. "Wine and pregnancy--that's taboo even to talk about," notes Sam Haislet. "No one ever talks about it, so there's no information."
Drastically less controversial: Quick!-- name a region in the Loire Valley besides Sancerre or Vouvray! If you did, report to Solo Vino for an advanced class on the Loire Valley, July 22, featuring wines never before seen in this market, from unusual appellations. If you are more interested in finding out why anyone might care about the Loire Valley in the first place, consider taking Chuck Kanski's Grape Juice 101 class July 29. All Solo Vino classes start at 6:00 p.m., cost $25, and are held at one of the restaurants near the shop. Check Solo Vino's brand-new Web site, www.solovinowines.com, for more info, or call the store. Solo Vino, 525 Selby Ave., St Paul; 651.602.9515.
What's red, white, cheesy, and sells out all over? Answer: Surdyk's wine classes. "You should see it around here the morning we open registration," says Jim Surdyk, owner of the legendary wine and liquor store. "It's like a rock concert. The phones are ringing off the hook until they sell out. It's just amazing. People come in from all over the place--Wisconsin, Brainerd, Bemidji. It's huge." How huge? Surdyk estimates some 1,000 people per year take their wine classes, which are held in the large addition to northeast Minneapolis Greek restaurant Gardens of Salonica. And cheesy? Yup. Each and every Surdyk's wine class offers a formidable cheese component from their amazing cheese shop.
Want in? Then mark your calendar and set your alarms. Surdyk's summer wine classes will start taking reservations July 29. The offerings this round include four sections of Intro to Wine on August 5, 6, 26, or 27 for $35; New Zealand and Australian wines in a Down Under section August 19 ($45); a French wine class on September 10 ($45); Pacific Northwest wines on September 16 ($45); and Italian food and wine pairings on September 17 ($55). All classes start at 6:30 p.m. There are also a couple of Surdyk's cheese classes: Check their Web site, www.surdyks.com, for more details. Surdyk's, 303 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; 612.379.3232.
Gentlemen, a Secret
A quick word to the single men of the metro: Holy cow--have you ever been to one of these things, these wine tastings or wine classes? They are just wall-to-wall with college-educated, upwardly mobile, spic-and-span women who start the evening with their pencils sharpened and their ears cocked, and end the night flushed, tipsy, giggling, and desperate for dinner. I can't believe no one ever writes about this. It's just ridiculous. Like dating fish in a barrel.
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