It's gonna be a SCORCHER in the city this weekend! What better way to cool off than by tasting wines or, better yet, bringing home a bottle or two to enjoy sitting in front of your AC watching the game? (Yippee! Baseball is back!) This Friday I bring to you three spots around the city "tasting out" wines worth checking out. For those of you looking to get ahead of the game (no pun intended), note that two are on tap for tonight. Or, if you're like me and afraid your freckles might melt off should you head to the beach, plan to spend some time in Brookline on Saturday afternoon. Here's what I know (listed in order of tasting time):

Ball Square Fine Wines ~ Friday, July 18, 4:30p - 7:30p

Looks like Ball Sq is serving up a red (Petite Verdot) and white (Sauvignon Blanc) from Australia, care of Dee Bortoli; a cool, summer white blend from the Pacific Northwest; and a red Vin d'Pays (France). Survey says?? Cheers to that!

Bon Vivant Wine Company ~ Friday, July 18, 5p - 7p

Bon Vivant is tasting out Riesling this weekend. They write, "It is a great varietal for new wine drinkers to explore and expand their palate moving closer to the dry side. The two wines, Sohne Relax and Trimbach from Germany selected to taste this week are great values. Both of these wines have some residual sugar and go great with spicy foods." Prost!

Brookline Liquor Mart ~ Saturday, July 19, 1p - 5p

BLM is tasting out Wines of Italy on Saturday. They say, "Italy's varied wine regions and many grape varieties makes for some of the most interesting discoveries. Often we find great values!" I couldn't agree more!! They will be tasting out 10 different Italian vinos. They recommend getting there early "to avoid disappointment". Salute!

A few words on decorum. Wine tastings held at local stores are not invitations to get blitzed. Expect a small taste of each wine and feel free to ask the host/pourer about the wine itself - who makes it, what the varietal is, where in the world and how it was made, etc. Then take the time to think about what you are tasting. Give the wine a sniff to see if anything connects for you (does it smell like the leather of your baseball glove? fresh raspberries? citrus? butter? toast? etc.). When you take the first sip, let the wine swirl in your mouth a bit to let the flavors emerge, then savor it as you swallow. Think about how it finishes. Does it satisfy your palate? If not, why not?

You do NOT have to buy a bottle at these tasting. The idea is to allow customers to explore wines you may not pick up on your own, ask questions or peruse the store. Tastings present a fabulous opportunity to see if the store provides adequate customer service, is well-organized/laid out, clean and whether it offers unique or boutique wines. If I offered 2 solid 'rules of engagement' for these kinds of tastings they would be: 1) Be respectful & 2) Have fun with it!

What other shop tastings do you know of this weekend? Do you plan to attend one?