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2007 Toast of The Town: March 29, 2007, San Francisco

toast_town.gifPeople are always asking me how they can learn more about wine, and my answer is always the same. The easiest way is to taste more wine. Leaving aside the more formal options of classes and seminars, there is just no substitute for tasting a number of wines side-by-side and paying enough attention to them to learn what style of Merlot you like, or whether you enjoy Rieslings, or what Beaujolais actually tastes like. The best place to do that is in your own home or someone else's where you can taste at your leisure and take notes. But the second best place is at a large public tasting where you're sharing the cost of the wines with not just a few friends, but with hundreds of other people.

Which brings me to the upcoming Wine Enthusiast Taste of The Town event, being held this Thursday at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House. Like the other big wine magazines, Wine Enthusiast Magazine hosts a yearly party at which revelers can sample hundreds of different wines along with food from some of the city's top restaurants. To call it a bacchanalia might be going a little far, especially given that people's clothes stay on all night, but for wine and food lovers, this event might just resemble some of their best fantasies.

I should note that I've never been to this event, so I cannot offer first-hand opinions about whether it is well run, or whether it is worth the $95 price tag. I can say however that any event where Krug champagne is being poured and The Fifth Floor kitchen is offering food is probably worth checking out.

But back to my original point, this is a great event for anyone interested in surveying a wide variety of wines of many types from around the world. Looking through their list of wineries attending I see producers from all over France, Spain, Chile, Australia, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and California, some of whom are very high-end labels.

So if you find yourself with a free evening on Thursday and want to taste some good stuff, you might check it out. VIP ticket holders can start wine tasting and eating at 5:00 PM and the general public event goes from 7:00 to 10:00 PM.

Wine Enthusiast Taste of The Town 2007
Thursday, March 29th, 2007 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Tickets ($185 VIP, $95 General) are still available from the event web site, but may sell out by Thursday. I do not know if they will be available at the door.

This is something of a fancy event judging by the photos and videos on the site, so dress appropriately for a night on the town, but remember that wine spills happen all the time at these things. If you're smart you'll wear something dark.

Likewise, if you're smart you'll spit most of the wine you taste so you can taste more than six or eight wines and not end up a stumbling fool at the end of the evening.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.