A student’s view of wine tasting


My knowledge of wine was pretty limited when I went to the weekly wine tasting at UpFront and Company. Having interviewed a “wine expert” earlier that day, I knew how to drink the wine in the proper fashion, but I had no idea how to properly appreciate or detest the wines I was about to drink. When I got in the restaurant, I half-expected a lily-white room with a bunch of buckets to spit wine into like I had seen in the movies. Instead, it was packed like any other Friday night and there were no buckets.

I went to the dance floor, where a long table was set up with six different groups of wine bottles. Each group was a different wine, and I began to panic. How was I supposed to tell the difference between six different wines? I can’t even tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke sometimes.

Liz Kinnart, an UpFront employee who was staffing the wine tasting, was very helpful in calming my nerves and suggesting that I first try a red wine by a company called Layer Cake. The wine was a 2006 primitivo/zinfandel from Puglia, Italy. I used all of the proper techniques that the wine expert had told me about earlier. It was fairly dark in the restaurant but the Layer Cake had a deep but very red purple color to its body. I swirled it in its glass, releasing the “bouquet,” before sticking my nose in the glass. The wine had a very dry smell, which I had been told contained a lot of tannins (the same component in tea that makes your mouth feel dry). I could smell a fruity scent reminiscent of cherries. I took in a mouthful of the wine and sucked air over it into my mouth. The foretaste was very abrupt, and I could really taste the tannins. The aftertaste was rewarding with a lingering spice and clove flavor.

I then applied this same process to three more wines before deciding that was probably enough wine tasting to do on an empty stomach.

UpFront’s wine tasting isn’t what you would expect it to be. It’s mostly just people eating and leaving their tables to buy a bottle of wine before drinking it with friends. I was the only person standing at the table ordering glasses of wine and drinking them without sitting down.

At $12 a bottle for any of the wines, or $4 for a glass, the prices are very reasonable for a restaurant. Anyone interested in wine tasting will find the experience UpFront & Co. offers to be unintimidating and enlightening. Come with some friends, order something you think you might like and give it a shot.

Local Wine Suggestions
Kevin Baker at White’s
Tapena Garnacha, 2006
Cost: $8.89
Taste notes: Very fruity, with a peppery/spicy element
Goes well with: Red Meats, pork, and grilled vegetables
You may be interested if you: Enjoy a lot of flavor and are not a big fan of dry wines

Liz Kinnart at The UpFront
Polka Dot German Riesling, 2007
Cost: $13-17
Taste notes: Strong fruit, apple and pear, just a hint of tannins
Goes well with: a pasta dish or salad, or you can enjoy it on its own
You may be interested if you: Are new to wine and want something drinkable that hardly seems like wine at all

Christopher Kibit, professor of hospitality management
Georges Dubeouf Beaujolais Nouveau, 2007
Cost Around $10
Taste notes: Tender, fruity, and well balanced
Goes well with: Most things, from a salad to a chicken based meal.
You may be interested if you: Enjoy a seasonal product that is very accessible without being too powerful