Perfect pairings: How well do you know your wine?

I have a confession to make. I love to drink wine, with my dinner, with cheese and crackers at a party…OK, sometimes it is just me, a glass of wine, and a good book. But I am ashamed to admit that what I truly know about wine could fit into a hollowed-out wine cork: not much, right? Shopping for wine is always intimidating, so I only stick to brands and types of wine that I have tasted before. Are you a wine enthusiast, but not a wine expert, just like me? Lucky for us there are some great wine-pairing events coming up that will help give us a more discerning palate and the right vocabulary to truly enjoy wine.

A great place to start is the Pairings on the Parkway at Sister Cities Park in Center City, held every Thursday in August. At this low-key event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., you are asked to bring your own bottle of wine, and then you will be able to shop for a variety of cheeses and other food items that might pair well with your wine. Experiment a little with your choices and then sit down to enjoy your bounty while listening to some live entertainment.

On Saturday, Aug. 9 in Vineland, N.J., at their inaugural Food & Wine Festival, you can sample offerings from Balic Winery and Southwind Vineyard while enjoying a diverse array of foods from local restaurants. Then show off what you have learned so far at the amateur wine competition. The festival will run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will also include live music and children’s activities, like face painting and a sidewalk chalk art contest.

At Pinot Boutique in Center City, the wine experts are offering a class that combines Philly culture as well as wine education. During Philly Food & Wine Pairings, you will learn the history of classic foods like the Philly cheesesteak, soft pretzel and Tastykakes and what local wines go well with them. Yes, I did just say a soft pretzel with wine. This class is offered on both Sunday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Classes will continue into the fall.

Also on Sunday, Aug. 10 in Newtown, sweet offerings are being made at Crossings Vineyards and Winery where during their How Sweet It Is: Pairing Wine with Chocolate at 2 p.m. you will be given tips on what wines go best with chocolate. The afternoon will include instruction, wine tasting, a tour, and your own personal assortment of Pierre’s Chocolates. On Sunday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m., move past the cheddar cheese and explore other types of wine-and-cheese pairings. In September, the winery will also be offering another session on wine with cheese as well as one on cupcakes. The ladies are also invited to a special spirited night out that will include tarot card readings on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

You can also continue your education at Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery in Rio Grande, N.J. and take their tour, offered daily from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. where they show you the transformative process from grape to bottle of wine and allow you to taste their wine as well as gourmet cheese. Practice makes perfect, right? 

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