Wine is a taste new to my palate, as I never thought a long night out could be paired with anything other then a cold Corona or bottle of José's best. After all, wine is not the typical get-drunk-quick drink that appeals to the early twenty-something crowd. But when offered tastings at over a hundred wineries for only $20, I couldn't pass that up.The Russian River Wine Road plays host to its 32nd annual Barrel Tasting March 6–7 and 13–14, and I have planned a weekend with my parents where the generation barrier can be hurtled. Though it's all about the wine, Barrel tasting has been misinterpreted as a cheap drunk by many my age.
Barrel tasting is meant to be a chance for tasters to talk to winemakers, sample wines from the barrel and explore Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys. The more experienced generation may do just that, but for a younger generation, this idea has yet to really sink in. The winery's goal is to introduce people to new wines and help educate tasters about what they taste. However, I must have missed the class where they teach you how to actually drink, and there is nothing worse than mis-sipping and feeling like you're 16 again, sneaking a hurried glass that wallops the palate.
Aiming to counter drinking and driving, wineries offer a designated driver rate of $10. Luckily for my parents and I, my brother has agreed to drive us around all day. I suspect that a homemade steak dinner is part of the agreement. I will tread the waters of chewy, fruity, earthy and elegant wines with my parents in tow, trying to look, act and drink gracefully. I'm betting that lasts about two winery's worth.
Russian River Wine Road Barrel Tasting runs Saturday–Sunday, March 6–7 and 13–14 from 11am to 4pm. $30; drivers, $10. www.wineroad.com.