Hang around restaurants in the hours between lunch and dinner and you'll occasionally spot wine reps and their "magical black bags," as chef Chris DeBarr calls them. These bags carry wine samples the salesmen want restaurant wine buyers to try, and in addition to a taste they sometimes come with a story about the winemaker, area of origin and such.
DeBarr says he's always cherished those tasting visits and the exchange between restaurants and wine purveyors. He's launched a new series to recreate the experience for diners at Serendipity (3700 Orleans Ave., 504-407-0818; www.serendipitynola.com), the restaurant he opened in September.
"Drink Like a Pro Mondays" is a weekly wine seminar in which DeBarr and representatives from various wine importers or distributors discuss a particular region or theme. They guide guests through at least six wines, serving 2-ounce pours of each, and Serendipity's kitchen provides small plates of food paired with the wine.
DeBarr says the idea is to give people "a backstage pass at how we wine professionals evaluate wine," describing the format as a "show and tell" about the grapes and the winemakers. The seminars begin at 5:45 p.m. Monday and sessions are scheduled to last an hour. The first event lasted more than two hours, however, so results may vary.
Upcoming seminars showcase white wines to pair with heartier, cold-weather cooking on Nov. 5, and wine pairings for holiday meals on Nov. 12. The cost is $25, which includes wines and light food. Reservations are required. — IAN MCNULTY