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Wine dinners

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This week, since the issue is stuffed full of food, I thought we'd talk about wine: specifically, our myriad opportunities to drink it while learning about it.

In the Triangle, we can hardly pick a week that doesn't offer several wine-related events. This week is no different (see below). But there are many more than can be listed, so just ask wherever you buy or drink wine. Chances are that store or restaurant hosts tastings or wine dinners.

Tastings are great, but I really like a wine dinner. There's more food! Not just cheese and fruit, which are great, but entire courses planned with a particular wine in mind.

Also, there's just the right amount of education. I find it tricky to absorb—much less remember—concepts like terroir while imbibing. Maybe I'm an idiot, or a lightweight. But that's the point. Unless we're the expert, we all feel like idiots at a wine tasting. Right?

At a wine dinner, you get a little knowledge, but not too much ... no expounding on the entire history of the great grape, or soil acidity, blah blah. The wine expert, who is often the purveyor of the event's selections, offers just enough about a handful of wines.

And (if you're like me) because you plunked down dollars to be there, you'll pay attention when he or she defines "crisp" or says that rosés aren't just for little old ladies anymore. Instead of ordering your same old choice, you'll try a sip and take a bite, as directed.

And because (unlike me) the purveyor and the chef know that they're doing, they've paired the wine with the food, and you'll really get that wine enhances the flavor of food and vice versa.

Yeah, wine dinners can be pricey, which is why I've only been to a few. But they're worth it. Reservations are usually required, so call ahead.

Glenwood Grill (2603-151 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, 782-3102, www.glenwoodgrill.com) and Hahn Estate Wines (www.hahnestates.com) will host a five-course dinner Sunday, Aug. 5, from 6 to 9 p.m. Winemaker Adam Lazarre will speak, and Glenwood Grill Chef John Wright and Sous Chef Adam Reid will create a special menu. Price: $45 per person.

The Fearrington House Restaurant (2000 Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, 542-2121, www.fearrington.com) will host winemaker Violet Grgich of Grgich Hills Winery (www.grgich.com) for a wine dinner at 7 p.m. on Aug. 7. Grgich and Fearrington Sommelier Maximilian Kast will discuss the history, culture and qualities of the featured wines, which will accompany Fearrington Executive Chef Graham Fox's multicourse menu. Cost: $150 per person.

On Aug. 13, Panzanella (101 E. Weaver St., Carrboro, 929-6626, www.panzanella.com) will host a North Carolina Wine Dinner. Yes, North Carolina wine! And not muscadine wine, either. The event features six courses of Panzanella's signature dishes, and Panzanella Executive Chef Chris Capron will join Weaver Street Market Wine Coordinator Peg Todloski to guide you through each course and share their expertise on the wine selections. Cost: $45 per person.

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