The best wine tasting experience I have had — until I researched this story of course — occurred in Sirince, a village located in the southeastern part of Anatolia, Turkey. As of late, this remote place has become infiltrated with tourists and is synonymous with its wine tasting tours.
A far cry from the airy vineyards of California, this village is a cramped space of wine shops piled upon wine shops and is occasionally interspersed with a rug shop or two. Hours could easily be spent tasting each sweet fruit-based wine and hearing, “Don’t buy it yet! Go to every store and then, if you like mine best, come back.”
Hard to argue with and to comprehend — the notion of vendors encouraging you to visit the competition — but that’s part of its charm.
The charm in Pensacola is that the wine tasting sessions are free, numerous and conducted in English. Not only that, but the ones I visited often turned into educational seminars resulting in knowledgeable, slightly buzzed visitors. Visit them all and then, when you have a greater knowledge of what’s available, go back and buy your favorite bottle, or two.
Wine Shoppe at Seville
Next Friday night, before you hit the dance floor at the clubs next door, go to Seville early and visit the Wine Shoppe from 5 to 7 p.m. Bill Carlson, Wine Shoppe’s enthusiastic manager, claims that “the great thing about wine tastings here is that we don’t have a distributor like most other wine stores do. Everything we have is things we like, things we are excited about.”
Every Friday, the Wine Shoppe chooses a few of their favorites to sample to the masses.
“This week we’re tasting wines by Charles Smith. He’s famous for these really high-end Syrahs, but he’s started making these amazingly valuable wines.” With playfully titled wines such as Velvet Devil Merlot and Boom Boom Syrah all under $20, he knows his market.
“Right now, value is a big issue for many customers, so we try to provide a great selection of quality wines in the $10-$20 range.” With popularity in Malbecs increasing and the great deals coming in from Spain, finding the perfect combinations of value and quality hasn’t been difficult.
Bill can also be seen on Blab-TV every other Monday at 8:30 p.m., opening a bottle of wine and taking questions from callers.