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Question: I very much enjoy wine and everything about “reds.” How can I get more information about building a red wine collection, lists, places to visit, and events? � Michael F. Ruggio, Duane Morris LLP, via e-mail This e-mail gave me pause. Because I write about wine, publicists spoon-feed me information about new wine releases. I’m invited to tastings and winemaker dinners, into cellars, and even out to the vineyards to pick grapes. But how did I originally manage to corral information about red wine, wine events, and the best wine lists? For me, this was a particularly important quest when I was a Washington newbie. My advice: Don’t go it alone. Whether you’re an enthusiastic wine novice or a practiced taster, you’ll become better versed about red wine if you hang around the “Wine Guys,” Bob and Fred Luskin. These amusing brothers are the proprietors of M Street’s Bell Wine Shoppe. On the first Wednesday of each month at Borders at 1801 K St., N.W. (the entrance is on L Street), they hold forth before a group of wine lovers. Not only will you get to taste several wines at this free event, but also you will have the chance to ask questions in a nonthreatening environment. The next tasting, scheduled for Sept. 3, 2003 at 6:30 p.m., is devoted to Syrah. If you are looking to mix it up with other wine devotees, it doesn’t hurt to get on the e-mailing lists of www.tastedc.comand www.dcsocialinsider.com. Both of these outfits keep a fairly robust calendar of local wine events. The DC Social Insider has a Web page dedicated to viticulture, with links to area vineyards, wine merchants, publications, and wine associations. Want to learn about wine in an enchanting setting? Head to the wine country. To get the most out of your visit, you can check out www.virginiawines.organd www.marylandwine.com. These Web sites provide up-to-date information about winery events, classes, and festivals. Another way to soak up wine knowledge is to join an established wine group or society. While I’ve never personally become a member of one, I’ve met several people who have, and I’ve walked away very impressed with their depth of knowledge and their ability to discourse on wine. The Tasters Guild, for example, offers members entree to wine and food events, educational seminars, tasting notes, and social activities. This welcoming group emphasizes that it is not just for connoisseurs; instead, it aims to benefit all levels of consumers. ( www.tastersguild.com; for information about the local chapter, call (301) 688-5944.) You can’t help but appreciate the Wine Brats’ “anything goes” approach to learning about wine. The D.C. chapter, marketed to the Gen-X crowd, hosts wine events each month. ( http://dc.winebrats.org) If, on the other hand, you delight in pomp and ceremony, you should become acquainted with the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine. In order to become a member, you must be nominated by a “Knight” or “Gentlelady” of the brotherhood, appreciate wine, and “pledge to serve its cause well.” The brotherhood recently organized a tasting on the Hill and hosts creative and educational events each month. ( www.kov-dc.org; (703) 978-6025.) One of the finest wine education programs I’ve ever attended, and one that I heartily recommend, takes place at the Brown-Forman Center for Global Wine Education, in Mendocino, Calif. Although originally conceived as a program for wine buyers, restaurateurs, and others in the wine trade, this program serves as a fabulous “wine boot camp” for consumers. Every session of each action-packed day is informative, hands-on, and interactive. To learn about terroir, viticulture, and organic and biodynamic grape growing, we headed into the vineyards. We tried our hand at blending wine, tasted our way around the globe’s greatest wine regions, and practiced food and wine pairing. One of the most interesting components of this unique seminar was its examination into what makes restaurant wine lists good and bad, creative and approachable. The three-day program costs $1,000, and the next seminars are scheduled for Oct. 5 to 8, and Nov. 9 to 12. For more information, contact Colleen Stewart at (707) 744-7421 or at [email protected]. As for the red wine collection part of Mr. Ruggio’s question, I’ll tackle that subject in another column. Elisabeth Frater is “Wine Counsel,” a wine law attorney based in Napa, Calif. “Wine Counsel” can be reached at [email protected].

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