For the longest time, wine was never my first choice in a drink. I was told it was an acquired taste, that I’d come around to it. I started with sweeter moscato wines and worked my way up to chardonnay, and now I’m trying to branch into red wine. Apparently it’s better for you.
The Chattanooga Tasting Club, led by wine aficionado and world-class pianist Tim Hinck, is helping me refine my wine palate and find my favorite sips.
Tim started the Chattanooga Tasting Club earlier this year after wanting to share his love and knowledge of wine beyond his established wine groups. He noticed that there’s an active wine community in Chattanooga and he wanted a place for them and others to connect and enjoy some nice wines together. Whether you’re a wine newbie, an aspiring sommelier or anything in between, the Chattanooga Tasting Club has a spot for you at the bar.
Each week, Tim hand-picks four to six wines based on conversations with sommeliers around the country and research of his own. After working for a vineyard for a while and partaking in sommelier studies, Tim certainly knows how to craft a great wine tasting event. I’ve sipped wines I’d never heard of and wines I would never approach on my own. I’m far from a wine snob, but I can at least say my taste is expanding beyond my usual $10 Cupcake purchase at the grocery store.
In addition to weekly tastings, Tim has partnered with several others in the community for special events combining wine and the other senses. In January, the Tasting Club held a joint event with Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, a new coffee shop in town that opened right after the holidays. We sampled three coffees (from Yemen, Peru and Guatemala) and three wines (garnacha, syrah and sherry). It sounded like an odd tasting combination at first, but the wines and coffees were paired together specifically and each complemented the other’s flavors and notes.
P.S. You can get a coffee subscription with Mad Priest.
Earlier this month, Tim partnered with Holly Mulcahy, concert master of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, for a special multi-sensory evening of wine-tasting and beautiful music. Each wine–two whites and two reds–was paired with a music selection that complemented the flavor notes. Musical selections included “Celestial Bird” and “Celestial Mountain” by Alan Hovhaness and “Prelude” from Grand Duo by Lou Harrison.
The highlight of the evening, of course, was a sneak preview of the Tributes Concerto for Violin by composer Jim Stephenson. Tim and Holly played the second “Andante” movement of the concerto for those of us at the “Tributes Tasting” as the evening’s finale. Fun fact: that movement draws from a scat in the Louis Armstrong song, “Hotter Than That.” The Chilean syrah chosen to accompany the Tributes piece paired so nicely with the smoky, jazzy mood set by the music. It’s amazing how two different senses and experiences can complement one another so well.
You can experience the world premiere of the Tributes concerto on March 2nd at the Chattanooga Symphony. Tickets are still available!
Most recently, Leah and Ryan from Wine Theory brought four amazing, small-batch California wines to the Chattanooga Tasting Club. These were wines that usually go for $80-$90 per bottle, and we had the awesome opportunity to taste them for ourselves. All four wines were impeccable, but the Judge Palmer 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Domenica Amato 2008 Pinot Noir were far and away my favorites.
There absolutely is a community of wine lovers in Chattanooga, from all ends of the spectrum. At each event, I’ve met people who know their wines and know the proper swirling and smelling techniques, and I’ve met people more like me, who don’t know much beyond their grocery store purchases. The joy of the Chattanooga Tasting Club is the chance to meet other wine aficionados and learn more about how wine is made, where it comes from, how to taste it, and most importantly to find what you like.
And wine is best enjoyed with good company, of course.