TThe professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique winemaking courses take aspiring vintners through the accessible four-step process, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants then fill more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
For $45, you get a session of three Spanish-wine classes and a healthy-cooking-and-mixed-drink guide on August 17, 24, and 31, from 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m. For $45, you get a session of three Spanish-wine classes and a healthy-cooking-and-mixed-drink guide on August 18, 25, and September 1, from 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
The Pino name has been a Highland Park mainstay since the inaugural Pino's grocery opened nearly 100 years ago. Its current incarnation is Pino's Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar, a specialty outfit that purveys wine, beer, liquor, and gift baskets. Here, customers can sample craft brews and internationally sourced wines at the newly opened tasting bar or take home an elegant gift basket of edible goodies, such as artisan salsas, tapenades, and popcorn.
With six handcrafted beers on tap and a full menu of delicious pub provisions, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company enrobes taste buds in warm, comfortable flavors. The Blazing Brewhouse wings ($5.95) perk up palates with a tangy zest that earned them the title of Best Hot Wings in Woodbridge by BestHotWings.com. Wrangle the Colorado burger's bison patty into hungry mouths aided by sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried-tomato pesto mayo ($7.95), or follow the delicate salmon steak's incredible journey through pan-searing and potato-breading before rousing it from snug beds of rice and fresh veggies ($15.95). Like the cool table in a high-school cafeteria, Bitting's homegrown pints ($4.50 each) stay popular with or without delicious food. The Garden State IPA balances appealing bitterness with a floral aroma, and the heavily roasted Black Jack Stout swoops up from cellars to slake any thirst in the house.
Every Saturday, wine is free at Elegant Wine & Liquors. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the shop holds a complimentary tasting. Here, the resident sommeliers welcome patrons to sample wines from Italy, New Zealand, and France, as well as domestic vintages from California vineyards. High-caliber spirits from Grey Goose, Bacardi, and Tanqueray also line the densely occupied shelves, reflecting the refined palate of the shop’s owner, Stefanie, who has spent more than a decade in the beer and wine industry. She shows her savvy not only through the eclectic and sprawling selection, but also through customer-oriented touches such as free gift wrapping, a more aesthetic alternative to ensconcing gift wine bottles in slightly bigger wine bottles.
The brainchild of Ivan Ruiz—a sommelier who’s perfected mealtime pairings at restaurants across New York City—the Summit Wine & Food Festival celebrates the intersection between great wine and great food while simultaneously raising funds for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Celebrity chefs from Bravo and the Food Network and local guest chefs share their knowledge during events like mixology classes and a special beer tasting hosted by Spiegelau Crystal, which includes a complementary set of beer tasting glasses for each attendee. Sommeliers also share the spotlight at the summit—showcasing varietals from domestic and international vineyards—and clear up the misconception that grapes are just confident blueberries.