If your wine know-how stops at red versus white, or you’re still picking your preferred bottle by label art, City Wine Tours offers a way to expand your palate in a familiar locale. The traveling taste experience leads you through a Saturday of small bites and good vintages, based in the neighborhood streets of Boston. Co-founder Daniel Andrew previously de-stodgified Harvard’s campus with the fun-loving Hahvahd Tour before he turned his interests to the esoteric world of wine. With a team of City Wine Ambassadors, including Chief Wine Ambassador Wes Narron, City Wine Tours aims “to make learning about wine as much fun as drinking it.”
The Tours make the most of Boston’s ever-growing culinary culture and tight-knit neighborhoods with specialized walking routes that showcase the city’s wide range of cuisines and wines. Each jaunt includes stops at local restaurants within walking distance, like Gennaro’s and Tresca in the North End, or Gaslight, Cinquencento and Masa in the South End, where you’ll be treated to apps and paired pours for first-hand wine education. Narron’s personal favorite? L’Espalier (part of the Back Bay tour) known for its wine-y largesse. “It’s one of the few restaurants in Boston where you can do a vertical tasting”—that is, sampling different vintages of the same wine.
Beyond good food and wine, City Wine Tours provides tips and insider knowledge to uncork the sometimes mystifying rituals and mysterious regions involved in getting a glass in hand. With more restaurants offering by-the-glass lists, Narron notes, you’re increasingly able to pair a different pour with each course—if, that is, you know what to order. The Ambassadors will help break down the hieroglyphics of a wine list to find the best value and taste. You’ll learn to pinpoint sweetness, tannins, acidity and body since “learning how to identify those characteristics in your favorite wines makes it easy to find other wines you’ll enjoy,” guaranteeing that you’ll be sniffing and swirling like a pro well after the tours.
The knowledge goes beyond the restaurant to wine rack, as well, with info on navigating the wine shop shelves. “I love seeing more and more wine shops conducting weekly, sometimes daily, wine tastings. I’m also finding more wine buyers taking time to meet the winemakers and learn their philosophy, prior to putting the bottles on the shelf.” As for what he’s drinking this autumn, Narron singles out Valpolicella Ripasso for pairing with hearty grilled sausage, cioppino and Parmesan. But, rather than take his word for it, you can find your own fall favorite with a few pointers from City Wine Tours. After all, “there’s no substitute for learning to trust your own taste buds.”