It seems there's never enough time in the day to nurture yourself. Even so, you owe it to yourself and to your family, who benefit from your sanity, to make time to spend alone or with friends. So why not enjoy a night out -- or in -- wine tasting with the girls?
Out with the girls
I must admit, I'm a bit of a wine snob. If it comes out of a box or a jug, I'm not interested. I drink wine because I enjoy the aroma, the taste and the texture of it. If a wine is lacking in those areas, I won't drink it. What's the point? Now, give me a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a gritty Petite Sirah, and I'm a happy camper.
The way I've figured out what I like is by trying out different wines (red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert) until I've hit upon some favorite varietals and wineries. I prefer not to have to buy a bottle for these experiments when a glass, or even a couple of sips, will tell me what I need to know. Which is why I enjoy wine tasting so much.
If you're in a particularly prolific place, the Napa Valley in California, for instance, you shouldn't overdo it. Choose only three to five wineries to visit in order to enjoy, and to remember, the experience.
Also, for safety's sake your group needs to choose a designated driver. I know it's not always fun to be the one to do that job, but somebody's got to do it. I recommend you choose a friend who's either pregnant, breastfeeding or not a drinker. Then promise to buy her a nice lunch and a decaf latte in exchange for her chauffeur service.
A more equitable arrangement would be to plan for a shuttle bus or a limo to drive your group around. For example, some of the wineries in western Colorado have set up tours with local transportation companies. Your group can visit about eight wineries for as little as $20 per person, depending on your mode of transportation. And everybody gets to drink.
Another place I know of is a wine shop in Oregon. Every other Friday night and every Saturday afternoon they offer several wines for tasting. The distinct advantage over a winery is being able to do a vertical tasting. You get to try, say, Zinfandel from different wineries, different years, different states and even different countries. It gives you a better feeling for what you like and what you don't like about a particular varietal (a wine made primarily from one kind of grape).
You don't have to do a varietal tasting, though. Pick a theme, such as sparkling or red wines or wines from Washington State or from Italy. Then ask each person to bring an appropriate bottle of wine. This gives you a little peek into each other's personal preferences. Who knows? You might even find a new favorite wine for yourself among your friends' offerings.
You should also ask your friends to bring along some food to share that will complement the wines you plan to serve. It's a good idea to eat while you're drinking. An appetizer or dessert should suffice.
While you're having all that fun, remember what the beer ads tell you, "Drink responsibly."