Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday Night Volume 1: Zebra

My friend Kristen alerted me to the fact that Zebra holds wine tastings every Friday night: 10 dollars for 4 wines and light appetizers. I've always wanted to try Zebra, and this sounded like a good little introduction to the place. Friday morning, Zebra sent out an e-mail to their mailing list informing everyone that at tonight's wine tasting, they would be giving participants a free bottle of wine to take home. Really?! After sharing this fact with our friend Brianna, she signed on. Free bottle of wine = no brainer.

Kristen and Brianna are fabulous people to attend these things with. They are both big time foodies and fantastic cooks, and they both love wine. Brianna is actually educated in wine - she even took a week long wine course at the CIA in Napa! Ah! Kristen loves wine too, but has, shall we say, a less discriminating palate. After each tasting I ask her what she thinks, and she says "wine is wine. And I like wine!" Well said sister!

We arrived a little before 6, and the small bar at Zebra was getting crowded. We purchased our drink tickets, loaded up on apps, and began sipping the first selection, which was Santome Prosecco. I'm not particularly experienced with champagne, let alone Italian champagne, but I thought it was tasty. Light and fruity, and slightly dry. A good way to start.

The second selection was Oriel Taralula Sangiovese. I went back and forth on this one. I liked it quite a bit, but as I analyzed it more, I was having issues with the unpleasant finish. Brianna stated quite astutely, that it smelled like "barnyard". I sniffed again, and sure enough, barnyard. The host of the tasting told us it was "earthy", so maybe that's where we ended up. All that said, it wasn't half bad...I wouldn't kick it out of bed!

By this time, Zebra was becoming absolutely packed with people. The tasting line was out the door. We decided that going forward we would get our wine, and immediately get back in line. The staff seemed a little overwhelmed by the crowd. We overheard them telling someone that they usually get about 20 people in on Friday nights. There had to have been 50 or 60 people there this time. They eventually ran out of free bottles to give everyone! Luckily we were able to secure one. Whew. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The third selection was Riseccoli Chianti. It was alright - none of us were blown away. Although Kristen apparently liked it: "wine is wine!" The description said it had a floral bouquet (very true) and mineral notes (hm, didn't get that). It was very light for a chianti. Our collective verdict was that it was a little wimpy.

The fourth selection was Orial Il Gattopardo. The description stated that it is 100% Nero D'Avola...which I had to google to learn that it's a varietal grown in Sicily. This was pretty good, actually. Very strong berry flavors, along with coffee flavor and lots of tannins.

Brianna was regaling us with some of her amazing wine stories, and told us that we hadn't lived until we tried Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape. We agreed to stick around at Zebra for a glass, but after seeing that they were out of our price range for the evening, we decided to pop over to another wine bar in search of this to-die-for red.

So, overall, the experience at Zebra was fun - I enjoyed myself and fully intend to come back again on a Friday night. It may have been a little better had the crowd not been so huge, but I think the staff actually handled it pretty well, considering. I think they underestimated the draw that the words "FREE BOTTLE OF WINE" will have. By the way I picked up a One Hope Merlot, which is waiting patiently on my bar to be opened.

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