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I Don't Understand San Francisco Wine Week

Perhaps I'm just getting too old, but I can't for the life of me really understand what San Francisco Wine Week is all about.

Here we are living in one of the greatest wine and food cities of the world. We're spoiled rotten when it comes to our wine and food. We expect, and regularly receive great local ingredients in our food, an incredible selection of wines from California and around the world, and completely take for granted the fact that we can bring a bottle of our favorite wine to any restaurant we like.

If there was ever a large city in America that might have a week long celebration of wine, San Francisco would certainly be at the top of the list. And here we are beginning just that sort of celebration, except....

It seems completely, and utterly lame.

As far as I can tell, San Francisco Wine Week is simply six nights of open bars in various venues around the city where you can taste as much wine as you want, no doubt to the soundtrack of thumping electronica.

Come on people. That was the best you could come up with?

Granted, this event is supposedly aimed at the young, urban, hip crowd of Millenials that make up the largest wine drinking population that America has ever seen. But I've got to believe that there's a better way to celebrate what the promoters rightly identified as one of the Bay Area's most defining cultures.

And just to make sure I've exercised my complete curmudgeonly rights, let me just say that the web site and all the marketing material I've seen are horribly unhelpful at getting any sense of what these nightly events will be like. For instance, Wednesday night is the "Sommelier Party" hosted by sommelier Mark Bright.

OK. So what does that mean? If you wanted to find out, say, the difference between that night and Tuesday night, which is the "Import Party" you would be shit out of luck, as they say. Nothing on the web site provides any indication of what is actually going on that night, or any other night, for that matter, other than "wine tastings." Hell, it's not even clear whether there will even be food at these things, except for "San Francisco restauratuers" being mentioned somewhere as some of the sponsors.

And if you want to know what's going to be happening at the ultimate end of week party, the Red Gala, you'll find yourself similarly screwed, except, of course for the dress code, which is supremely, unhelpfully described as "red attire encouraged but not required." So would that be red t-shirts or red ball gowns?

It's quite a shame that a city so steeped in wine and so populated with smart, talented hospitality folks couldn't come up with something better for the first Wine Week than this. As far as I can tell, we've got nothing educational, nothing uniquely Californian, and nothing really fun, except, perhaps if you're a young guy who knows a thing or two about wine and wants to go meet chicks that will be impressed with your knowledge. Sounds more like "party with alcoholics" than it does "celebrate wine culture."

Of course, that may just be the target audience for this whole debacle. The saving grace of which may be that the entire week's events cost a mere $75 bucks. Which means, no matter how bad the event ends up being, a motivated barfly will at least be able to drink their money's worth if they go every night. With only 44 wineries participating, you might also be able to get through every single one over the course of the week. In fairness, it must be noted that some of the wineries pouring at the event are quite good.

I'll leave it to the most adventurous of you readers to go check it out and look forward to happily being proved wrong. But I don't expect to be. San Francisco, you can do better than this.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise 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 Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud