By Kim Marshall-Volk
An evening of sampling the best wines and cheeses from around the world - sans jet lag, layovers and lost luggage - sounds delightful, right? Welcome to Bottlenotes.com's "Around the World in 80 Sips" events.
80 Sips events bring together young professionals interested in wine with some of the world's best bottles in a highly social, interactive setting. Founded by Alyssa Rapp, who was once named one of "30 under 30" Coolest Entrepreneurs in 2008, Bottlenotes metamorphosed from a friendly wine tasting circle, into the dot com and subsequent city-by-city events. Bottlenotes.com is a premier online community, a place where you can learn about, discuss, purchase and rate new wines.
We attended the San Francisco event in February, while upcoming versions take place annually in Chicago, Denver, New York City, Miami, and Washington DC. For San Francisco, the Golden Gate Club in the Presido was the scene, with the hip crowd from throughout the Bay Area gathered in four different rooms where wines from around the globe were being poured. The atmosphere facilitated easy mingling, with small bistro style tables strewn around the rooms so it was easy to gather and talk about your favorite tastes.
As the event name implies, over 80 top wines from traditional and emerging wine regions around the world were part of the evening's sampling. These geographies included Argentina, Austria, Australia, California, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, and more.
One of our favorite pours was the Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Derived from the Marlborough region in New Zealand, this wine was so clean and crisp that it reminds one of a warm summer day spent barefoot in the sun, without a care in the world. As it was poured, the staff remarked, "You will always remember your first wine form Marlborough." We believe they are correct.
Another notable was from Chappellet Vineyard, a family-owned winery in St. Helena. Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, which is a limited production, was delicious and full-bodied, inspiring visions of an accompanying Filet Mignon.
The Camatta Hills Reserve Syrah from Greg Norman Wine Estates - with a hint of blackberries and cherries, along with barbeque spice - was surprisingly a little sweet, but rich and full at the same time.
As tempting as it is to become swept away entirely by the event's wines, let's not forget about the food! With many cheeses, breads and crackers for nibbling, there was one thing that really caught our eye and proved palatable between those sips: San Francisco Bay Area's own Oren's Kitchen provided an array of their Wild Rosemary Almonds, Indian Ajwain Cashews and Coconut Chili Macadamias that were so delicious; one could not help sampling more and more.
Around the World in 80 Sips events occur throughout the year coast-to-coast. Find more information about the dates and Bottlenotes' membership benefits at Bottlenotes.com.