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Pound Ridge Wine Merchant Schooling Wine Lovers

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Alex Rubeo is on a mission to make wine less intimidating.

The owner of Pound Ridge Wines & Spirits and Mariella’s Wine & Espresso Bar in Scott’s Corners created a weekly wine class in December and the limited number of spots available have been filling up since.

“Wine can be confusing and intimidating and this helps people become more informed,” Rubeo said. “It’s a free class, but it’s not completely altruistic on my part; it does make people better buyers.”

The class is held every Thursday night at Mariella’s. Each one has a different theme or topic and is taught by a wine professional, usually a friend of Rubeo’s he knows from the industry.

“The topics can range from a specific winery to wines from a particular country,” he said. “This week it’s about Spanish wines from different regions and we’ll pair them up with different Spanish cheeses. Recently, we did one that was all about wines from Chimney Rock Winery in Napa Valley.”

Next week’s class will be taught by a representative from J. Lohr Winery in California. Rubeo said the winery is known for mass-produced wines, but also has single-vineyard labels, which will be the focus of the event.

Attendees of the class learn an eclectic array of information about wines. Some classes teach why certain wines go with certain foods. Other times, the teachers will explain why the same grape grown in different regions develop a different taste.

“We did a class on pinot noir,” Rubeo explained. “It’s the same grape, but it’s grown in different places. In California, it ripens fasters and we find that with those wines the fruit will be more present.”

The main thing the classes aim to do, Rubeo said, is create a more confident wine lover who will understand what he’s looking for when he enters a wine shop.

“How can you explain Bordeaux in an hour? You can’t,” Rubeo said. “We show them this is what it tastes like at $12 and this is what it tastes like at $60. We teach them not to be afraid.”

Rubeo has also created a Wine of the Month Club and its members are afforded the first chance to sign up for the weekly wine classes.  However, there’s usually plenty of room at the classes for non-club members.

“The Wine Club members have first dibs, but they don’t take up all the seats,” he said. “For tonight’s class, only two of the 13 people who’ve signed up are in the club.”

Rubeo said the best way to sign up for the weekly classes is to get on his e-mail mailing list, which will inform subscribers what the class topic is that week and give them an opportunity to RSVP. To get on the mailing list, write to Rubeo at info@poundridgewine.com .

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