LA Wine Fest Is Here: Whatever You Do, Don't Order The Merlot

Act like a Sideways snob for two days during the Third Annual LA Wine Fest with a smattering of other oenophiles. You can taste over 500 wines during the festival (there’s booze, too, for those of you who don’t know the difference between cabernet or chardonnay). By then end of it, you might be giving speeches about how “wine is alive,” and how you root for pinot because it’s “thin-skinned and temperamental.” Merlot fans can rejoice—the varietal has bounced back after the initial smack-down in the movie where Paul Giamatti's character whines, "No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot!”

Though the costs to attend the various events are steep— $90 gets you entrée to Georg Reidel’s comparative taste testing on Saturday at 6:15, using his cool stem-less glasses (considering that plebians never hold wine glasses the proper way, might as well do away with those bothersome, lame stems); the 7:30 Riserve Dinner featuring eight courses paired with nearly as many wines and spirits is higher still, at $125. But the regular events are more reasonable at $45 for a day pass. On both days, there are featured speakers and food pairing discussions (wine and cheese, wine and olive oils) with winery directors, sommeliers, and food writers. Maybe you will finally be wine-smart enough to get a date with Virginia Madsen, too. Hopefully, you won’t blow it like this sad sack did.

LA Winefest: July 12 and 13th, Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood.