Benjamin Franklin once said, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” Come Friday nights in Lake Oswego, you’ll find a group of 50-100 wine lovers gathered at World Class Wines who are very happy indeed. They have discovered that you don’t have to travel to the wine country to enjoy and learn about wine. You can do it right in town. Here’s how.
●Show up at one of World Class Wines Friday night wine tastings. Offerings include six wines for $10 with cheese and crackers or 8 wines for $15. Resident wine geek, Rick Baldwin, is usually pouring, sometimes with the help of local winemakers or distributors. He provides tasting notes along with answers to any questions you may have about how the wine is made, what to pair it with or how it compares to the vintages you tried the week before.
Regulars come for the camaraderie as much as the education. “You feel like you are at a neighborhood party,” explains Vicki Kozlowski . “We have made many good friends at the tastings and learned a great deal about wine while having a very good time.”
Friday night tastings are date nights for Kirk and Sheri MacDowell. “An evening at World Class Wines is really an event,” MacDowell explains. “It can be a bit intimidating for first timers,” he admits, but “the regulars understand that and within minutes people introduce themselves and more regulars are born.”
●Take a tour of the shop with wines organized in sections to make it easier for you to get around: $15 and under, rosé, Oregon wines, $15-30, champagne-bubbly-and dessert wines, and a fine wine room of $30 and above featuring hard-to-find wines, aged wines, and verticals. “Wine can be overwhelming for people,” Baldwin explains, “That’s why we have it divided by price so you can hang out where you are comfortable spending.”
●Enroll in the wine club. It’s customized to suit your tastes. You pick the price level for two bottles of wine ($30, $50, $75), frequency (monthly, every other month or quarterly), and type (one red and one white, two reds or two whites). Baldwin will tailor the selections especially for you.
●Sign up for one of the monthly Saturday night premium tastings which feature pours from the fine wine room/private cellars and catered appetizers. Space is limited and reservations needed. Tasting fee is $50.
●Schedule a private group tasting. Work with Olson and Baldwin to tailor a night with friends or co-workers.
●See if you can stump Baldwin. Co-owner Susan Olson says it hasn’t happened yet. But Baldwin is up to the challenge. He’s comfortable talking with wine novices as well as connoisseurs because he has been both. Baldwin admits to drinking wine on ice before tasting a Silver Oak Cabernet in the early 80s. “It was like an aha moment,” he explains. “That afternoon I went home, subscribed to every wine publication and started collecting wine.” His private cellar held 4,000 bottles at one point. The guy has done his research.
World Class Wines is located at 269 Southwest A Avenue Lake Oswego, OR 97034. (503) 974-9841.
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