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February 17, 2010

The Grape Escape: Welcome to Wine 101

Take a load off and have a glass of wine. Red, white, pink or bubbly — whatever suits you.

In this periodic report, we’ll offer a simple user’s guide to wine, a natural beverage that’s been around for about 10,000 years, ever since Neolithic people in the ancient Near East discovered that grapes left out in the sun would naturally turn into something delicious and gently mind-altering.

Unfortunately, the fruit of the vine has picked up an awful lot of additional baggage over the years. We’ll seek to drop off some of that baggage, following the premise that wine is fun and that you don’t have to be a sommelier (or a snob) to enjoy it. Our basic rule will be, “Drink what you like.” But to that I’ll add, “Learn a thing or two about what you’re drinking, and you might like it even more.”

This short column will appear in LEO Weekly most weeks alongside my dining review. I may toss anything your way, like a plain-English review of a wine I liked, a rant about why we can’t legally bring our own wine into a local eatery, or a discussion about why we can now take our leftover restaurant wine home.

Some weeks I’ll address basic wine questions: How to keep the leftovers in decent shape for a few days. How to pick a wine that will improve in the sealed bottle for a few years, and how to do that at home. I might take on the restaurant wine list, talking about why a bottle of wine costs more at an eatery than in the liquor store, and how to gauge whether the restaurant’s markup is fair.

You can count on something a little different every week, and I’d love to hear about topics you’d like me to cover. E-mail me at rgarr@louisvillehotbytes.com. And trust me to keep it simple, keep it straight, in plain English, without jargon or “winespeak.”