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A sommelier's advice for choosing a toastworthy Champagne



IT'S COMMON TO HAVE A WEDDING MENU TASTING before placing an order. Lisa and Toby DeVore, co-owners of wine shop The Tasting Room, want to bring the same tradition to wine.

  "Just like they do cake tasting, they can do wine and Champagne tasting," Lisa says. "And wine tastings are a lot of fun."

  California natives Lisa and Toby opened The Tasting Room in 2014 because they saw a need for boutique wine shops in New Orleans. Today, the intimate, chandelier-hung wine bar, event space and restaurant offers 200 wines by the glass.

   "Every wine region in the world is represented," says Toby, who is one of three sommeliers on staff. The business sells wine for off-premise events, including weddings.

  Toby suggests couples sample a range of Champagnes before placing an order. "There's no disputing taste or what you like, so I recommend trying the wine yourself as opposed to reading about it," Toby says. "Have two or three people with you and pick out what you like the best."

  Toby recommends trying a flight of Champagnes, which consists of three half-glasses, usually a grower Champagne, a large-house Champagne and a vintage Champagne.

  "The bubble flight that shows off three sparkling wines from three countries is really popular," he says. "It's a Champagne from France, cava from Spain and a prosecco from Italy."

  Lisa and Toby's favorite choices include a 2003 vintage Dom Perignon, Bodkin Wines' sparkling sauvignon blanc and non-vintage Liberte-Fils Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs. Each bottle yields about five glasses of wine, and Lisa says guests drink an average of two to three glasses each.

  "New Orleans is toward the higher end of that," she says. "Probably three glasses is average in New Orleans."

  The three sommeliers on staff all have different styles, Toby says, and can guide couples toward a bubbly they might not have otherwise considered.

  "We encourage people to try a wine they have never tried before," Toby says.

  "We don't want people to feel intimidated about asking about wine," Lisa adds. "We want a friendly environment so people can learn."


The Tasting Room (1906 Magazine St., 504-581-3880; www.ttrneworleans.com)

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