Arts Clayton, package store to host tasting event

To taste a more European vistis vinifera wine, or to taste a more North American vinifera labrusca wine? That is the question.

Arts Clayton, and the Highway 138 Package Store, in Stockbridge, will give local wine and art enthusiasts a chance to answer that inquiry this week. The non-profit arts group, and the package store will co-host their Fourth Annual Holiday Wine Tasting event on Thursday, from 6 p.m., to 9 p.m., at the Arts Clayton Gallery, which is located at 136 South Main Street, in Jonesboro.

The tasting serves as an opportunity for Arts Clayton to raise awareness that the gallery exists, and for the Highway 138 Package Store to spotlight some of its wine vendors, said Arts Clayton Gallery Manager, Karen Powers.

"It came together because wine and art tend to go together," she said. "People who like art tend to also like wine, and people who like wine, tend to like art. So, in partnering with Highway 138 Package Store, we're bringing both of those things together. We're both exposing them [wine tasting attendees] to wine, and art."

The event is also a fund-raiser for Arts Clayton's building fund, which Powers said is used to pay for upkeep and operation of the Arts Clayton Gallery. She said the event traditionally draws a crowd of approximately 100 people.

Admission to the tasting is $20 per individual, or $30 per couple, Powers added, and tickets can be purchased on Arts Clayton's web site, www.artsclayton.org/, or at the door, during the event.

During the event, there will be approximately 40 different wine brands, representing approximately 25 wineries, and four wine distributors, available for people to taste, said Bill Remy, the wine manager for the Highway 138 Package Store.

Powers added there will be hors d'oeuvres served, and live music will be performed during the event.

Remy said attendees at the wine tasting event will be able to float from table to table, tasting wines. There will be four to 10 different wines at each table, he said.

"There will be people there from each of the distributors, to answer questions people might have about a particular wine," he said.

Remy pointed out, however, that there is a specific method to properly tasting wine. To do it just right, he said, there are many factors involved, including how much wine is in the glass, and whether a person swirls the wine in the glass before tasting it.

Those two factors are important, he said, because people are not just tasting the wine — they are smelling it too.

"You don't need half a glass of wine, because if you have that much, then it's harder to smell the aroma of the wine," Remy said. "An ounce, to an ounce and a half is all you need ... When you swirl the wine you release the smell into the center of the glass."

But, this event will represent more than just people smelling and drinking wine, Remy said. He explained many new brands of wine, and new vintages of established brands, will be on tap during the event. He said this will be an opportunity for people to check out various wines, and see if they will have any new favorites.

"This is the kick-off of wine selling year," he said. "We're now entering the busiest time of year for wine sales, and it sets the tone for the next 12 months."