Wine & Spirits: Resolutions You Can Keep for 2011

by WL Author

A thirst-quenching array of events, seminar, books and more to help you get your drink—and your thinking cap—on this year.
By Kelly A. Magyarics

Wine class

So, how many of those impossible-to-keep New Years’ resolutions have you broken already? Don’ be too hard on yourself—many of those daunting promises are just doomed to fail. (You’ll go to the gym every day? Really?? ) How about this year you instead resolve to indulge a little…while learning a little bit in the process (and still making it to the gym on occasion…) Here are some ideas to get you started:

Take a Cocktail Seminar
On January 22 at noon at PS7 (777 I Street, NW), Chef Peter Smith and Mixtress Gina Chersevani will teach you how to have both “fire” and “ice” in a cocktail–but you may be surprised by the forms they take. The class is $65 per person, and you can reserve your spot by calling 202.742.8550.

The Columbia Room is offering a class on the art of the garnish

The Columbia Room is offering a class on the art of the garnish

Learn all about using pomegranates in cocktails at the Columbia Room (1021 7th St. NW) on Saturday, February 19, from 2-3 PM. Mixology guru Derek Brown will walk students through the history of pomegranates, making natural pomegranate grenadine, and drinks including a solid cocktail with pomegranate seeds. Attendees will be treated to three cocktails and appetizers, and leave with grenadine syrup to use in their own creations. Email to secure a spot.

Take a wine and cheese course from Carolyn Sromberg

Take a wine and cheese course from Carolyn Stromberg

…Or a Wine and Cheese Course
Carolyn Stromberg
, former fromager at National Harbor’s Old Hickory Steakhouse, has a new gig offering private cheese tastings and classes. On January 19, Carolyn’s new venture The Cheese Course pairs up with the Washington Wine Academy to offer an educational and lively 1-1 ½ hour seminar about the basics of pairing artisanal cheese and wine. Guests will taste 6 cheeses, 3 wines and a variety of accompaniments, and discover what makes a pairing successful. Purchase tickets through the Washington Wine Academy’s website.

Read a Book Before You Grab the Corkscrew or Cocktail Shaker
Whether you are a wine newbie or a dedicated home cocktailian, there’s a tome for you. Kevin Zraly, the affable wine educator with personality to spare, and founder of the Windows on the World Wine School now in its 25th year (from which yours truly is a proud graduate…), recently released The Ultimate Wine Companion. Zraly has assembled the finest wine writers of the last 50 years to explain everything you need to know about wine: decanting, tasting, grapes, matching food and wine, winemaking, sustainable vineyards, the various wine countries and regions, terroir, and much, much more. The book is chock full of regional vintage charts, grape charts, a glossary, and vintage labels, and is an excellent resource to keep handy in your cellar.

If whipping up complex and impressive cocktails is more your thing, check out Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined. Written by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric, owners of the speakeasy-esque Employees Only bar in New York, offer instruction on recreating classic drinks and mixing up some modern variations. Learn to make the original Manhattan recipe (which had more vermouth than rye…), the tangy New York Sour, and the Amelia, a blackberry and elderflower riff on the Cosmopolitan.

Attend a Wine Dinner
Bubbles aren’t just for New Year’s Eve, or even for celebrating. Head to Wildfire (Tysons Galleria 3rd floor, McLean)

Wildfire in Tysons has an upcoming wine dinner to learn about sparkling wine.

Wildfire in Tysons has an upcoming wine dinner to learn about sparkling wine.

on January 18 from 6-9 PM for a four-course dinner that explores sparkling wines from three different regions of the world. Wildfire’s Wine and Spirits Director Brad Wermager will be on hand to discuss pairings that include Key West stone crabs with a Passion Splash Champagne Cocktail, and Bay Haven Spit Roasted Chicken with Piper Sonoma Brut. Tickets are $65 a person plus tax and gratuity, and can be purchased by calling 703.442.9110.

Make Your Own Wine

It’s no longer just a pipe dream–Virginia’s Vint Hill Craft Winery makes it easy. Choose the style of wine, create to your own taste, design your own label and finish with a full year of hands-on education in winemaking and approximately 25 cases of wine to enjoy or sell. Be as hands-on (or off) during the process as you want to—if you can’t make it out to the winery to tend to your baby, watch staff via web camera. Base price starts at $6,000 (which works out to about $20 a bottle.) Checkout their website for more info. Too much of a commitment? The winery now offers a half barrel for about half the cost, as well as a “Vintner Associate” option for $1500 which results in 2 cases and a generous discount on their wines.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website,, or on

Related Articles