If the name Around the World in 80 Sips doesn’t get you in the door, then I am not sure what would. This Bottlenote’s wine tasting event was held in the lobby area of Union Station (Minute Maid Park) earlier this month. It gave wine lovers an opportunity to partake in some of the world’s best wines from some of the best winemakers representing various regions including Napa, Washington, Oregon, France, and Italy. The concept of Bottlenotes, as CEO Alyssa Rapp states, “began by accident” and came about during her own personal wine discoveries and journeys. Bottlenotes, Inc. is a commercial wine club and online wine community where you can learn about wine, share your knowledge of wine, and purchase wine. This was their first time hosting this event in Houston.

In addition to enjoying wonderful wines, I also received a signed copy of the Bottlenotes’ Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips upon entering. This publication is packed full of information and actually has two parts. Part one focuses on the wine itself and includes the history of wine, dives into the types and varieties of wine, and ends in sharing how wine is made. Part two is geared towards an understanding of the regions in which wine is produced, with a disclaimer that the listing is not exhaustive and only covers those regions Bottlesnotes’ personally enjoys. You can grab a copy here. I now use this as a “Dummies Guide to Wine” and refer to it often to get pairing recommendations and it serves as a great introduction for those that are new to the wine experience.

Now on to the event…

The event kicked off at 7:00 p.m. and the first hour was limited to VIP ticket holders and press. I enjoyed the first hour as the lines were very short and I got the chance to speak with several of the representatives. I was able to taste all but one of the VIP wines during this hour, as one of the wines was clearly very popular and was all gone by the time I made my way. The event started to kick up a notch or two once general admission started one hour later. By then, I was feeling pretty good and ready for the second phase of the evening.

VIP wines available:

  • Banfi (Tuscany, Italy) – Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2006, $75
  • Brooks Wines (Willamette Valley, Oregon) – Brooks Rastaban Pinot Noir 2008, $50
  • Clos Du Val (Sonoma, California) – Clos Du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, $75
  • Duckhorn (Vineyards Napa, California) – Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $75
  • Henriot (Champagne, France) – Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV, $50

As the evening progressed, the lines got longer. By 9:00 p.m., one hour before the event was due to end, the lines went from acceptable (and fairly fast) to a line similar to those found at a Justin Beaver concert. Of course, I am kidding. By the looks of the crowd, people were not complaining about the lines one bit and were thoroughly enjoying themselves. I am sure you can contribute this to all the wine filling their bellies. As we sampled and mingled we came across a few wines that stood out from the rest.

A few of our favorites from the evening:

  • Chappellet (Napa, California) – Chappellet Chardonnay 2010, $32
  • Chappellet (Napa, California) – Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, $49
  • Cannonball (Napa, California) – Cannonball Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2010, $14.99
  • Henriot (Chablis, France) – William Fevre Champs Royaux 2010, $23
  • Henriot (Beaujolais, France) – Villa Ponciago Fleurie Reserve 2009, $21
This goes to show that wines do not need to be expensive to be full of flavor and pleasing to the senses. Others worth mentioning are winemakers Mt. Brave and Wine Sisterhood. Wine Sisterhood, in particular, has a great story to tell. Not only do they support the Tough Enough To Wear Pink?, a charitable organization in support of Breast Cancer Research, but they have a great Cab (Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Paso Robles, CA) and the Moscato is pretty good too. The Purple Cowboy is the official wine of the professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
As far as food was concerned, it was limited to cheese and charcuterie (provided by iGourmet) and other typical items that go great with wine. You were not going to get full here, but that was okay; it gave us a reason to hit up Vic & Anthony’s after the event! The energy and vibe of the event was great and we really had a wonderful time. The winemakers were very informative and took the time to share their history and approach to wine making. It is hard to not have a good time at a wine event really. As the Bottlenote’s slogan states, all you need is “good people” and “great wine”.All wines available during this event can be purchased here.

* Urban Swank did receive complimentary entry, however, the opinions are our own.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.


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