In the middle of a harried workweek, what could be better than escaping the house to sit around with friends sipping syrah and playing Scrabble? Or maybe pinot grigio and Clue is more your style. Perhaps you're not sure what wines you like but are eager to learn more. That's exactly what Whole Foods Market has in mind with their weekly Wine Down Wednesdays. From 6 p.m.-9 p.m., the Winter Park grocery store features approximately five wines, and customers gather in the cheese/chocolate/wine section, tasting different varieties and nibbling hors d'oeuvres for free.

Not sure what food to pair with what variety and vintage? The tidbits of cheese, chocolates and specialty items served are chosen to complement the wines, so you can try them on the spot to see if there's a match. And here's another perk: Starting March 9, if you decide to buy a bottle at Wine Down Wednesdays (or make any wine purchase over $15), Whole Foods will throw in a couple of wine glasses as a gift, which they encourage you make use of while lounging on their outdoor patio.

Some Wednesdays are tagged with special themes. If you love Japanese food, the March 23 tasting will celebrate Sakura Matsuki, the Japanese cherry blossom festival, with sake and sushi. Never heard of deep-red Rioja? Show up April 6 for a tasting of Spanish wines. But really, any old Wednesday will do: They provide board games, wholesome food, stimulating wines and comfortable space. Just grab some friends or come to make a few.

Wine Down Wednesdays
Whole Foods Market
1989 Aloma Ave., Winter Park
(407) 673-8788

Speaking of On The Side

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