Pretty much everyone who comes to Asheville hears that Asheville has won the title of “Beer City USA” three times in a row. But what many people don’t realize is that Asheville has a thriving wine culture as well. We even have our own local wines produced at the Biltmore Winery. (Although it is stretching it to call it local as the vast majority of the grapes used in production are shipped in from California).
Meet Jessica Gualano, owner of the Wine Studio. Jessica started out in life as a French major only to discover while living in France that her real passion was wine. However, it never occurred to her do anything with that passion until one night at a friend’s dinner party when someone asked her a question about the wine they were drinking. As Jessica stood in the kitchen talking about the wine she suddenly realized that the table behind her had gone quiet. She had captured the attention of the room. Jessica says this was a light bulb moment for her and she began to give small wine tastings. Over time she realized that people wanted to buy the wine after tasting it and The Wine Studio was born.
The Wine Studio is not just a place to buy wine. It is a place for people to gather and learn about wine as well. Recently James and I, as owners of the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, were invited to one of the many wine tastings held there. After enjoying a glass of sparkling wine we moved to a spacious room at the back of the shop where tables had been set for us with an array of glasses as well as cheese, crackers and olives attractively presented on fine china. It was clear that this was going to be so much more than just a wine tasting. For this particular event Jessica had brought together a number of people who worked in the hospitality business and offered wine to their guests. Her intent was to introduce us to a number of wines which were better than average at a price below $12/bottle.
James and I have been to a number of wine tastings in our lives but this was the most informative and relaxed of any I have attended. Jessica started by talking to us about how to taste wine and along the way she debunked a couple of common myths. For example, I always thought that one swirled the wine in the glass in order to see if the wine had “legs” (in other words, it should fall back down the sides of the glass in thick rivulets rather than a sheet). Jessica told us that this means little about taste, having mostly to do with the amount of alcohol in the wine. Swirling the wine in the glass releases the aroma which is one of the first things a taster should experience. If you really want to get a good whiff of the wine, you should blow in the glass.And when the wine steward gives you the cork you can smell it but it should smell like a cork. What’s important is that it is not crumbly as this would indicate that the wine has gone bad. Jessica is an entertaining speaker with a very personal style and before we knew it the time had flown by.
But you don’t have to be invited in order to attend a tasting at The Wine Studio. Wine tastings are held every Wednesday and Saturday with specialty classes during the week which change often. One of the most tempting I have seen is a “Yoga and Wine Tasting”. After a very relaxed yoga session, guests enjoy a wine tasting. Apparently one’s senses are heightened after the yoga and you are able to taste much more of the complexity in the taste. The easiest way to find out what will be happening during your visit is to either give them a call at (828)-255-5955 (tell them we sent you!) or to visit their Facebook page. And of course we will be happy to make arrangements for you through the Carolina Bed & Breakfast.