Seems like we are often chastised about opportunity knocking, and us not embracing the moment. I guess the mere fact that opportunity expects a warm response puts us on the defensive.

We may be distracted by life’s other demands, or just not interested at the moment when opportunity slides away, like some thief in the night. 

Among those nagging childhood questions, like “how are we supposed to know whether a name is Irish or Scottish heritage?” Or “Is there any way we can get around the requirement to eat green, leafy vegetables?” Or “how the hell am I supposed to learn about wine and its many facets or spirits and the endless possibilities of mixing?”

Can’t help you much on the first two questions, but I have some thoughts on the latter.

The first thought is that many of you really don’t want to know about the basics of wine knowledge or spirits mixology. Oh sure, you profess to want to know but when the time comes to put in a few moments on education, you are “too busy.”

That sort of attitude surprises me, because learning about wines and spirits is just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on or off. Your call here. What could possibly be the downside of popping corks or unscrewing screwcaps on a bunch of different wines and then evaluating how you perceive them from the viewpoint of your own palate and nose?

Or how horrible an afternoon would it be to play with different spirits, adding in all manner of elixirs and garnish, then seeing which one is the favorite to enjoy all evening along?

And here is the point: in order to learn about adult beverages, you have to taste and explore a bunch of adult beverages. Not a bad way to broaden your horizons.

We are most fortunate in our town to have a wide variety of approaches to a self-guided or expert-guided tour of the wide, wide world of wine. Any of the places noted below will be happy to stage for you a tasty representation of a wine growing area or a focus-study on a grape.




600 Poland Avenue



Free-form, Bohemian, and so darn comfortable, either outside or in. Ready to take you under the wing and construct something personal and enjoyable.


Patrick’s Bar Vin

730 Bienville Street

(French Quarter)


Just a few doors away from Bourbon Street, but in lifestyle, nowhere close to the madness. Excellent breadth of product. Enjoy sitting by the large fountain at the Hotel Mazarin and put yourself in the hands of the Belgian, proprietor Patrick van Hoorebeek.



752 Tchoupitoulas

(Warehouse District)


Take a world tour of fine wines, pairing them with small plate specials. It’s a lively scene and no classroom you have experienced has ever been as happy and purposeful.



1036 N. Rampart Street

(edge of French Quarter)


Another small-plate-cum-wine spot. This one has an emphasis on champagnes and sparkling wines. To make learning easier, there are many suggested flights of wine to assist you to figure out that you like.


In addition, there several wine bars that stage entertaining and educational wine tastings every week, and/or offer regular bar service


  • Martin’s Wine Cellar

Several locations all over town

  • Swirl

Bayou St. John area

3143 Ponce de Leon Street

  • Pearl


3700 Orleans Avenue

  • Spirit Wine


3500 Magazine Street


Several other neighborhood spots also do a decent job of education and enjoyment. It’s really no fun learning about wine if you can’t have fun.

Yes, wine is a complicated topic and you should approach the subject matter in a non-threatening (to you) fashion. When it starts feeling like work, back off.

Next week, we will have a few suggestions concerning learning about spirits in Part 2 of this very informal and mercifully short discussion.




Read Happy Hour here on every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at