True wine connoisseurs teach themselves to distinguish varietals, identify flawed bottles, and cry pure chardonnay. Become one with the grape with today's Groupon: for $35, you get a wine-tasting lesson for two with wine-and-cheese pairings at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood (a $70 value).
The sprawling 1920s estate and sun-soaked vineyards of Chateau St. Jean serve as an ideal backdrop to tastings and classes. During a 10-minute sensory-training session, an educator guides students through a tasting of a white wine, a red wine, and three foods. Pupils leisurely assay the flavors of sweetness, bitterness, and saltiness, allowing them to better describe the unique experience of imbibing vino or eating pie in court. Following the training, a 30-minute session pairing wine and cheese brings lips into contact with four wines and four gourmet cheeses, granting tasters an understanding of why acidic wines match well with tart cheeses and lighter wines sidle up kindly to milder curds. Groupon customers also receive 15% off wine and 10% off other purchases made at the Charcuterie on the day of the tasting.
Chateau St. Jean
Nestled at the foot of Sugarloaf Ridge, Chateau St. Jean's idyllic 250-acre estate fills with the soft hush of broad grape leaves rustling in the sun. Hedges of waxleaf privet shelter well-manicured gardens, where firework-like bursts of hydrangea sway beneath courtyards and tasting rooms. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren strolls among the trellises, checking on the grapes, which hang heavy with sugar on the vines. She has spent the last 32 years overseeing the harvests at Chateau St. Jean, producing wines that have earned significant praise and awards. Wine Spectator gave the St. Jean Cinq Cépages cabernet sauvignon 93 out of 100 points, calling it “complex, layered, elegant and refined, with cedar cigar box, tobacco, currant and black licorice—trim and tapered.”
The wines fuel jocund chatter in the fully restored chateau, which was originally constructed as a summer home in 1920. In private rooms as well as outside on the sun-drenched deck, glasses click together with the soft jingling sound xylophonists make in their sleep.
8555 Sonoma Hwy.
Kenwood, California 95452