The low down on summer wine tastings Turn Acadiana summer into a trip to wine country

Bordeaux, brie and Bonnard. Last year's tasting of wine and fine art at the HIlliard. Photo by Mary Rozas. Courtesy Hilliard University Art Museum.

When summer rolls around, I dream of trips to Italy, Napa, Bordeaux — any romantic region where I can sip wine, gaze upon rolling vineyards and snack on cheese. The reality is, I don’t have the time or the money to take a trip to wine country this summer. However, I can realize a few wine-tasting dreams right here at home. This summer, a handful of places around town are hosting wine and food tasting events at affordable prices (or even free of charge).

If you share my desire to travel to Napa for the summer but can’t make it happen, I challenge you to make the city of Lafayette your wine tasting adventure. These events have a seasoned wine expert available to educate you on wine — where they come from, what foods they pair with and how they taste. Much like a trip to a winery, you can discover exciting wines you may have never otherwise had a chance to sample. You’ll learn something new and maybe find a new favorite.

Sip wine and talk Dali

On June 29 and July 27, The Hilliard University Art Museum will host Uncorked: Salvador Dali, a wine and cheese tasting, to pair with its latest art exhibit, Salvador Dali’s Stairway to Heaven. The folks from Marcello’s Wine Market and Café will be sampling wines from Spain, and Whole Foods will pair select cheeses with each wine.

“We experimented with wine tastings for our Bonnard exhibition last year and easily tied it with French wines,” says Hilliard Marketing and Membership Manager Jolie Johnson. “We then decided to continue wine and cheese tastings and a private tour focused on one of our exhibitions.

We wanted to create an experience that allowed you to escape from Lafayette for a few hours without leaving.” That’s perfect for a wine tour staycation. Nothing makes you feel more cultured than spending an evening surround by art and talking about wine and cheese.

The selection hasn’t been finalized just yet, but the tasting events generally feature up to six wines and cheeses. Expect cheese such as manchego and wine such as Tempranillo. Purchase tickets here for $50.

For the casual palate

Be on the lookout for a free tasting at your local restaurants. Romacelli Bistro, Philippe’s Wine Cellar and the newly opened Stacy’s Cocktails, Bites and Catering are hosting summertime tastings.

Philippe’s Wine Cellar has a tasting every Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It offers artisan cheeses to pair with each wine, and featured bottles can be purchased at a 10 percent discount. This event is casual and not intimidating. Feel free to ask questions to learn about the wines being served. If you are getting into wine and want to learn more, this would be a great place to start.

Stacy’s Cocktails, Bites, and Catering just opened in the space that was formerly Dark Roux. The spot features a much more casual vibe with small plates and fun cocktails. You can expect to find free wine tastings on the first Wednesday of the month throughout the summer. Each tasting is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., so get there early; it fills up fast.

No matter the event you attend, ask questions, listen and sip with intent. There’s a world of wine to learn about and a community of knowledge right in your own backyard. No trip to Napa needed.