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Wine 101 with Bear Dalton

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Forty different wines, fresh French bread, and decadent cheeses - no, this is not heaven. This is Wine 101 with Bear Dalton.

In January, we took a wine course with legendary Spec's fine wine buyer Charles M. Bear Dalton. The weekly two-hour course, which usually ran over, was held Tuesdays night for a month at L'Alliance Française. Each class featured 10 different wines with cheeses and bread to snack on in between sips. Needless to say, we were nice and relaxed when we left the class each night.

But this course is not all fun and drinking. It's actually a lot of in-depth learning. The first class focused on how to professionally taste wine, and was followed by a classes on red wine, white wine, and then sparkling and fortified wines. All the wines featured could be bought at Spec's for a reasonable price. No $200 bottles here.

And they're not just Dalton's favorites. "I choose wines I like and don't like to teach the class specific points," he explained. By the end of the course, we had made great wine friends and expanded our wine repertoire. Who knew we would be buying Sauternes or Port and feel comfortable doing it?

Dalton is a wealth of wine knowledge and history. He's been teaching about wine since 1984. "I enjoy interacting with people, and it gives me the opportunity to learn even more about wine," he told us. "Even as the teacher, I can learn from my students." Dalton also teaches a five-week course at Rice University as part of its continuing education program. You can find out when his classes are in the Spec's newsletter.

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