An in-depth knowledge of wine can enliven humdrum dinner parties, just as an in-depth knowledge of dynamite fishing can enliven foundering job interviews. Give palates an executive education with today’s Groupon to Wine Shoe. Choose between the following options:
- For $35, you get a wine-tasting class for two (a $70 value).
- For $65, you get a wine-tasting class for four (a $140 value).
Within Wine Shoe's tastefully appointed tasting room, pairs of oenophiles gather around a 12-foot wooden banquet table to swirl small producers’ wines and absorb the viticultural knowledge of the store's wine experts and proprietors. Each of the differently themed classes, taught mostly on weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons, begins with an instructor sliding a bottle from the room's floor-to-ceiling wine racks, uncorking it as smoothly as a tiny boxing robot beheads his blue rival, and then pouring flights of rich reds and clean whites from their unstoppered necks. In the Italian Wines class, tongues swim through sparkling prosecco, a classic white varietal, and three powerful reds, whereas Wine 101 courses teach neophyte palates to detect and describe acidity and observe the differences between fruity and earthy wines.
Classes are limited to 25 students, creating the informative yet jovial ambiance of a parent-teacher conference held in a crowded operating theater. As backs rest against handsome high-backed chairs, students' eyes can take in the store's gleaming chandelier, as well as towering maple doors and furnishings built from recycled materials. Pre- or postclass, wine enthusiasts can peruse the roughly 150 varieties of wine (most cost less than $20) nesting in the store's racks, where they lay their grapes every spring.
When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.