Local Tastings Serve Up Fine Wines… and Community
SHAKER LIFE | FALL 2017 43
By Michael Peters
Photography by Kevin G. Reeves (pages 42 & 43)
and Angelo Merendino (pages 44 & 45)
A recitation of house rules isn’t what you would expect
to kick off a packed monthly wine tasting event. “Any outbursts after
two glasses” warns Gene Veronesi at Shaker Wines, “and you’re out,” he
says with a wry smile.
Given that you’re handed a glass of wine as you enter, that’s not
much warning. But it also doesn’t phase the crowd of regulars and
first-timers. Soon “The Agony and Ecstasy of Sauvignon Blanc” tasting
event is in full swing. With each wine presented in a carafe for the table
to share, our tablemates good-naturedly negotiate for the “leftovers.”
Before we know it, we’ve tasted four wines and blissfully break for a heavy hors
d’oeuvre buffet of shrimp, pistachio puffs, and other accompaniments.
On this Tuesday evening we’re tasting nine variations of “the hottest
white wine on the market” as Veronesi explains, interspersed with the history
of the varietal, stories of the vineyards and winemakers, and the occasional
But while the wines are the excuse, it is clear from the start that the real
attraction is the community it creates. Grouped in tables of four to seven tasters,
the room at the back of the Van Aken District store is buzzing with laughter,
gardening advice, and networking. By the end of the evening I’ve met a Moreland
Court resident who boomeranged back to Cleveland in retirement, Shaker’s
foremost expert on backyard ponds, and a fascinating Maple Heights entrepreneur
and Tri-C instructor.
The Wednesday prior, the story was much the same at Brew at Juma on
Chagrin Boulevard at Lomond Boulevard. The comfortable café transforms to a
wine bar and lounge for daily happy hours and occasional curated tastings.
Soon everyone is discussing their favorite starting wine — the Prosecco or
the Pinot Grigio — and it too becomes more like a family-style gathering. “This is
what it’s all about,” says long-time Shaker resident Betty Hess over a glass of Rioja,
describing the community she sees at her frequent visits.
Facebook.com/Shaker Wine & Spirits
Wine Tastings: Tuesdays,7 pm, $25, 216-283-6300