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A Match Made in Heaven: Learn About Wine & In-N-Out Burgers
An opportunity to taste some custom-selected Zinfandels paired with In-N-Out burgers was something we just couldn't pass up. And while it certainly isn't tough to pick up a Double-Double and some fries from the nearest In 'N Out and uncork a bottle of red to sup on at home, the fact is we're far less oenophiles and more Oh, no, I don't know! when it comes to wine selection.
In a loft downtown, Ian Blackburn's Learn About Wine hosts numerous events aimed at upping your wine savvy and often amusing your palate. In a series of Friday evening events launched last month, Learn About Wine is doing what they call "Blind Date" tastings of particular varietals. This doesn't mean you're there to make a love connection with a fellow attendee (although, hey--who's stopping you?) but rather you're there to find out what suits your palate without knowing what you're drinking.
On their Zinfandel night we were faced with 20 blind pours featuring selections from all around California. Drinking sips and pausing to make and compare notes with our table-mates clear favorites soon emerged, as well as some humorous takes on flavor interpretation. "Paint thinner," reads a note for one, whereas "Full, lush, bit of a bite," is the annotation of another.
Having previously thought a Zin is a Zin is a Zin, the difference between a 2008 Gioia from Paso Robles (notes: "campfire smell, super smooth, skanky,") and a 2007 Hug Cellars, Cushman Vineyard from Paso Robles--a personal fave of the bunch--was staggering.
What wasn't surprising was how good those In-N-Out burgers tasted! While Learn About Wine doesn't do these events in conjunction with the famous California burger joint, they do order up more than enough burgers and fries to go around for the evening and friendly L.A.W. staff are there to make sure you get your fill (veggies, they'll accommodate you, too).
Blackburn took the mic at the end of the tasting to walk us through the list and to reveal what each of the 20 pours were, providing information about the winemaker, the price, and the availability of each. This information enhanced what we'd learned about the wine at the kick-off of the tasting, which was about the origins of Zinfandel as an "old vine" fruit planted in the days before Prohibition and often grown as a "dry farm," many times by Italian immigrants. Because Zinfandel takes on the unique expression of its growing location, the geography of the wines is a fascinating element of the learning experience of this sort of tasting, as is the opportunity to take comparative sips of an older and a newer vintage.
Learn About Wine will be running two more "Blind Date" Red & Burgers tasting events in the next few weeks; on February 12th it's Cabernet, and February 19th it's Rhone. Additionally, Learn About Wine runs all sorts of tasting events, excursions, cooking courses, and pairings that can be a lot of fun and informative for the novice wino or the seasoned oenophile.
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