So many wine labels out there, so little time. Wine tastings are one of the best ways we know to "develop your nose," so you don't have to waste time and money on underwhelming choices. And while the New Orleans region isn't famous for viticulture, we do know a thing or two about drinking wine. Here are some of the premier purveyors of wine tastings around town, all of which are about 30 minutes from Springs at Fremaux Town Center. Of course, be sure to bring a designated driver.
Okay, so you're ready to move beyond choosing wine by color and because you like the label. What's the next step? W.I.N.O., or the Wine Institute of New Orleans. You can take classes here if you're serious, but otherwise sign up for sampling an ounce at a time from W.I.N.O.'s 120 selections, and then decide if you want a glass or half-glass. Or, just keep on sampling. They also have cheeses and chocolates for wine pairing, as well as a wine-complementing menu of appetizers and small plates.
Most people who drink wine know that it goes well with cheese, but we're not talking slices of American. Pairing cheese with wine is an art, and proprietors Richard and Danielle Sutton know how it's done. They have an international network of sources helping them find the finest in artisanal cheeses, which they match with high-scoring wines. The public can partake through regular tasting events St. James holds throughout the year.
This may not be to the tastes of all wine lovers, but if you think outside the box, you can discover a new dimension in wine drinking here. NOLA's all-natural wines are made from a wide variety of fruits (except for grapes), and don’t contain tannic acids. These award-winning wines run from sweet to dry, may be red or white, and include dessert wines, port, sherry and semi-sweets. Sample citrus, berry, tropical fruit or blended wines at the marble bar daily for free. They also have wine smoothies.
Founded in 1946, Martin Wine Cellar is known for (possibly) being the first company in the U.S. to create gourmet food and wine gift baskets covered in plastic wrap. Tastings for wine and spirits take place at the Baronne Street location and in Metairie at 714 Elmeer Ave. You can try different wines by the glass at the daily lunch or Sunday brunch, or check the website for the regular (and free) wine tastings.
Enjoy a free wine tasting every Wednesday, 6-8 p.m., in an accessible, relaxing setting. The selections are high quality and small production. Bread and cheese are on hand for nibbling. You can also sign up for wine classes and private tastings, as well as book clubs, game nights and cultural events.
The New Orleans area abounds in wine tasting opportunities. Feel free to add your discoveries by filling in the comments section below.