We’re having a bit of an identity crisis, said Michael Green, as he looked around the room. It was Wednesday night at BLVD on the Bowery, and Green, formally of Gourmet Magazine, was overseeing Wine Down: The Holiday Party—Wine Down‘s fifth event. When I’d arrived that evening on a press pass in the pouring rain, I was surprised to find a line out the door. Women in black dresses and bare legs teetered in heels while I ducked beneath an awning in black leather pants. Once inside, I threaded the crowd beneath colored spotlights, wondering, with a glass in hand, what Wine Down was all about.
Young women in skinny dresses slunk past men in suits, while couples of their parents’ age mingled for a while before taking a seat on the couch. For nearly two hours, the place was packed. Music thumped while I stepped over floor lights, wandering from table to table, for this was actually a tasting event.
We’re taking pretensions out of wine, said Andrew Levine, voice raised over spinning DJ. I swirled the contents of my glass. Green‘s business partner and fellow host at Wine Down, Andrew continued, We’re bringing wine to the people, he said and nodded. It’s social.
A social event with wine as the supporting element, I suggested. And he said yes.
Not yet in possession of a website, Wine Down uses facebook and twitter to connect. Somewhat homeless in nature, it reminded me of those old school subway parties that I never got to attend, though the crowd on the A might have been a little more consistent.
Bringing wine to the people. I like that. But as I looked around, I didn’t see anyone peeking at their page of tasting notes; nor did I see anyone spit. With 20 wines to work through, and the option to return as many times as one would like, this was a party, with guests intent on a good time–most of whom seemed to get their monies worth. It was an impressive showing, but it wasn’t about tasting wines for the sake of study or notes. Each time I tried to concentrate on what was in the glass, my attentions wandered elsewhere to the tune of a pulsing bass note.
Partnered with Wine Down, Acker, Merral & Condit provided the wines, which were also for sale at the event. Did this accessibility lead to tipsy purchases or did it contribute to the wine-knowledge gained at the event? Still in its infancy, Wine Down drew a fat crowd, even if it still has things to figure out. Aiming to bring wine and people together, Green and Levine certainly succeeded. And though perhaps not for the contemplative side of my wine-loving self, in the company of friends it seems like most guests had a fun night out.