Beat Winter Blahs with Wine & Beer Tastings

January filled with wine tastings, dinners and beer festivals to keep away winter doldrums.

Finally, we now are finished with our long, drawn-out, multi-week holiday rounds of parties and dinners. Christmas and New Years are over. Psychologists warn us that this the time for those dreaded post-holiday blahs!

Not to worry. Because here is the recipe for defeating your after-the-holiday blahs. Think of the last few weeks as nothing more than a great warm up. The next 365 days offer almost every imaginable opportunity to grab your favorite drinking glass, take that significant other, call friends and designate a driver so everyone can get out and enjoy some top-rated food, wine and beverage fun!

Within these next four weeks you can fine two important beer fests, major wine tastings -- including three football-themed ones – and so many Italian wine tastings and dinners that by Feb. 1, everyone should be able to sing all the words from “O Sole Mio!”

Jan. 3. From 6:30-7:30 p.m. this Tuesday the Kroger at Old Alabama and Haynes Bridge Road in Johns Creek offers a free wine tasting and seminar about “Wines of the Great Pacific Northwest.”  It looks at the vintages coming today from Washington and Oregon. After the talk, everyone adjourns, goes next door to Pearls Restaurant to sip and savor samples of Northwest Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris and Rieslings. Reservations are not required. 

Jan. 4. Everyone can begin “Living In Zin” from 5-7 p.m. this Wednesday. The Marietta Wine Mart, just off the downtown city square, hosts a tasting of California Zinfandel wines from Lodi, Mendicino and Amador Counties, offering bottles from wineries like Amador Foothills, Artezin, Seghesio,  Van Ruiren and Rotta Estates. The Wine Mart asks for a $15 charity contribution to attend and provides guests with cheese, bread and fruit to go with the wine. 

Jan. 5. Kurt’s Bristo on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Duluth premiers its weekly Thursday evening wine tastings at 5 p.m. For $15 per person, guests sample five different wines each week. For another $20 per person plus the cost of dinner, Kurt’s staff lets diners have five more wines all specially paired with their menu selections.

Jan. 7. The Tinder Box-Vino 100 at South Main Street and Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta offers a five bottle Italian wine tasting from 4:30-6:30 p.m. this Saturday offering a selection of both red and white wines plus live music and hors d’oeuvres. There is a $10 admission but $5 from each admission goes to a select North Fulton charity. 

Jan. 7. Hinton’s Wine Store kicks off the first of three NFL-themed wine tastings in their Bin 75 Wine Bar, next door to the package store on Holcomb Bridge Road in Johns Creek. From 5-10 p.m. this Saturday and at the same times on Jan. 14 and Jan. 21, guests get a brown bag tasting of four wines -- two reds and two whites -- then they vote in a Wine Challenge, choosing the wines they enjoy best while they watch the NFL wild card, division playoffs and conference championship games on a big screen television. Admission is $15.

Jan. 11. How about an Italian wine tasting with a French accent? Atmosphere, the French restaurant on Piedmont Road near Ansley Mall, hosts a five wine tasting beginning at 7 p.m. this Wednesday. For $25, each guest, seated family-style around tables with hors d’oeuvres, sips five wines -- one each from the regions of Veneto, Fruil, Piedmonte, Abrozzo and Tuscany. Everyone votes on which wines they like. The top two are added to Atmosphere’s wine lists as “specials” for the rest of the month.

Jan. 12. Why does a Pinot Noir from Oregon taste different from a Pinot from France? The Salud! Cooking School at Harry’s Farmers Market Whole Foods in Alpharetta is going to try and answer that question during a special wine class comparing 10 old and new world wines. The cost is $39, and it runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. this Thursday. Experts will explain the wine styles and vintners techniques as guests sample wines. Make reservations by calling 770-664-6300.

Jan. 14. Jazz Up Your January from 1-3 p.m. this Saturday at the Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger, Ga. Lake Rabun Hotel Chef Jamie Allred will be in the tasting room preparing soup and hot mulled wine as guests listen to live jazz music, nibble on artisan breads and cheeses and taste Tiger’s French-style wines. Cost is $10 per person.

The Beechwood Inn in Clayton, GA, a few miles north of Tiger Mountain, offers a 5:30 p.m. daily wine tasting. The owners have a 3,000 bottle wine cellar with over 400 wines. Additionally, the Inn sells its own Beechwood labeled Georgia-made wines -- a chardonnay, a  viognier, a sangiovese and a cabernet sauvignon. The tasting costs $12. Reservations are required. Beechwood is an award-winning bead and breakfast with gourmet dining. You will want to stay for dinner. 

Jan. 15. The Atlanta Wine MeetUp hosts a “super Tuscan” Italian wine dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. this Sunday at Buckhead’s Antica Posta Tuscan Restaurant on East Paces Ferry Road. The three-course dinner only costs $29 but for admission to this event each guest must bring an expensive bottle of Italian, a bottle that costs $50 or more. Make reservations at info@meetup.com.

A word or two here about the Atlanta Wine MeetUp. This is not a singles group nor an exclusive “members only” club with costly dues. The MeetUp is a group of wine enthusiasts who organize wine tasting events for fun and enjoyment.   

Jan. 17. Buckhead’s Eclipse di Luna Restaurant teams with the Ansley Wine Merchants for an Argentina wine tasting from 6-7 p.m. this Tuesday. The $10 admission gets guests free tapas plus samples of six “sustainable” wines that a new importing company Vinas del Sol Inc. is introducing to the Georgia market.

Jan. 18.  Buckhead’s Ruth Chris Steak House, the one in the Embassy Suites Hotel, is hosting a wine dinner with the Atlanta Whiskey Club from 6:30-9:30 p.m. this Wednesday, featuring five award-winning Merryvale Winery premium wines. It costs $85 which makes it a great deal considering these California’s wines sell from $35 to $100. The cost includes a four-course prix fixe dinner with Oysters Rockefeller, prime steaks and a dessert served with the Merryvale “Antigua,” a fortified Muscat wine aged in whiskey barrels. Call 404- 365-0660 for reservations.

Jan. 19. Decatur’s Sprig Restaurant offers a special wine dinner from 6-9 p.m. this Thursday with guest chef Massimo Mariano from Puglia. A $50 admission gets a sumptuous banquet paired with four different Puglia wines. (Puglia is the state on the heel of the Italian peninsula.) 

Jan. 25. If you really enjoy red wines, mark this on your calendar. The American Wine Society presents its annual Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Tasting beginning at 7 p.m. this Wednesday at d’Vine Wine Bar and Shop in Dunwoody. Over 50 cabernets, the “king of wines,” are going to be served along with tapas, cheese, bread and fruit. This local wine society consistently sets the gold standard for fine wine tastings in the metro Aatlanta area. D’Vine is one of two of the top local wine bars. It means that this cabernet fest is a guaranteed “not-to-be-missed” wine tasting. Make reservations atdvine@atlantawinebar.com.

Jan. 28. Looking ahead to that “perfect” gift for your sweetheart’s special day on Feb. 14, Wine Accessories Mart, 4708 S. Old Peachtree Road in Peachtree Corners, offers free wine sipping in its showroom 11 a.m.-2 p.m. this Saturday. Everyone attending can enjoy two sparkling wines, six other red and white wines, and munch on artisanal cheeses and fruit while strolling through the mart’s display rooms. Display tables and shelves are stocked with almost every accessory imaginable for your wine cellar, cocktail bar, and kitchen. RSVP to wineaccessories@yahoo.com.  

Jan. 28. This clearly is a “Carpe Brewski!” Saturday! The problem? Deciding which event to attend.

The 8th Annual Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting, a benefit for the Atlanta Humane Society, takes place from 3-6 p.m. at The Prado on Roswell Road, just south of the I-285 intersection. Thirty-five artisan craft ales from the United States and the United Kingdom are going to be tasted, professionally judged and offered to guests paying the $43 admission. It takes place in a tent in front of adjoining restaurants, the 5 Seasons Brewery and the Prado Taco Mac. Reservations are mandatory. Only a few tickets remain.

The big Atlanta Winter Beer Festival, featuring over 110 domestic and imported beers of almost every brewing style, goes from 3-8 p.m. at The Masquerade on North Avenue in Atlanta. Admission is $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Winter Beer Fest organizers promise an afternoon of music, swag, food and unlimited suds. Atlanta’s BEER CONNOSSIEUR Magazine hailed this beer festival for offering “one of the most eclectic beer lists available.”  


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