Something to Wine About

written by JENNIFER COLOSIMO

WHEN I LIVED IN DUNWOODY, it was briefly and busily. As a newlywed, my husband and I had travelling to do, friends to see and cooking to try – for both the purpose of saving money and utilizing our wedding gifted kitchen gadgets. Needless to say, the reasons we liked living around the Perimeter don’t even scratch the surface of what it has to offer now. Specifically – and unfortunately for us – in the way of fun nights out.

More specifically, Vino Venue, just off Chamblee Dunwoody in the corner of the popular Georgetown shopping center, is a modest storefront with a wine wonderland on the inside. Wooden crates and wine bottles decorate the walls, intimate tables, both high and low dot the floor, a long, serene bar lines the side and magical taps serve wine by the taste, the half glass and the glass at the simple touch of a button. With a little piece of pre-paid plastic, you can sample vino from around the world all under one roof (and in however long you allotted for happy hour).

You’re also in for a treat if you decide to satisfy your appetite for cuisine here as well. Chef Patric Good’s “global cuisine with a hint of Southern hospitality” is rich, creative and served to perfectly complement whatever is filling (and refilling) your glass.

The ultimate treat, however, is the wine and cooking classes offered. From wine pairings to hands-on cooking, winemaker dinners and seasonal events, there’s a different way to enjoy eating, drinking and socializing every week (and multiple nights a week). At affordable prices and amidst great company – both supremely educated and enjoyably novice – you can turn a generic night out into something deliciously educational.

I grabbed a girlfriend for the New Zealand Wines Paired Experience and five courses, equal parts tastings and boundless details and inside information from one friendly winemaker from Marlborough later, I couldn’t help but continue my experience into the evening and comb through the online calendar to book my next trip into town.

The New Zealand dinner started with the 2016 Villa Maria Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc served with an herbed goat cheese and pistachio truffle. That’s right, I said “sparkling” Sauvignon Blanc. I hadn’t heard of it, but the frizzante in my glass proved a crowd favorite – and all bottles were sold before the night was over.

The following courses with white grapes – a second course of the 2015Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Gris, and the third, a 2015 Esk Valley Estate Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay – came crisp, cold and buttery, revealing notes that evolved from first sip to the sips I took alongside bites of Chef Good’s sea scallop served over sweet corn risotto and the pork belly flat bread with caramelized onions.

The fourth and fifth courses introduced reds, a Villa Maria “Taylor’s Pass” Pinot Noir, Marlborough, with a roast duck hash and pickled blueberries along with a 2014 Esk Valley Estate Bordeaux blend with braised beef short rib with melted leeks over a ricotta potato cake.

Savory pairings, chic atmosphere and fun conversation with other wine lovers at our table made for such a unique experience for a girl’s night out. With tempting menus and endless wine options to explore, it’s one I hope to explore often in the future. Luckily, for those of us living on the Northside, Dunwoody is typically less than a 30-minute drive away … so those fun nights out are only a babysitter away. Cheers to that.

For more information, visit vinovenue.com