January 23rd: My friend told me about a wine tasting going on in Little Italy; normally I’m the ones feeding my friends about events, so I jumped on the chance to piggyback off my friend and accompany her.  On the trek over, she told me that she heard about the event through meetup.com where she joined a “wine enthusiasts” group.  I’ve always wondered how these meetup things work – do people actually attend?  Are people super sketchy?  Is someone going to try and sell me a timeshare?

The wine tasting was held at Grotta Azzurra on Mulberry.  The restaurant is bigger than most other Little Italy restaurants that I’ve been to, and it was simple but sophisticatedly decorated.  They cleared out the tables in the room with the bar to create a large standing room and showcased 6 different kinds of wine: 3 white wines (a prosecco, a reisling, and a pinot grigio) and 3 reds (one being a merlot, and 2 other hard-to-pronounce grapes).  Although to say that it was a “wine tasting” is a bit misleading.  I was imagining that we would sample a small taste of each different wine, but you had to commit to a full glass.

In the spirit of “meeting up” with people, we chatted with a few others who were also quite friendly.  However, one guy I managed to talk to didn’t have a drink in his hand.  I asked him if he needed to get another glass of wine, to which he responded that wine makes him nauseous.  So why come to a wine enthusiasts event, I wonder…

The only reason I would think to would be: to pick up girls.  While meetup.com is not a dating service, I’m sure that people abuse it’s public meeting up schedule as such.  As I looked around, I noticed that it seemed more like a “singles mingle” than serious sommeliers.  Slightly horrified, my eyes darted around for an escape route.

Fortunately, right then it was announced that samplings of food were being served in the restaurant’s downstairs.  I snagged a bruschetta piled high with seasoned tomatos and onions and filled my plate with crispy calamari, but the defining moment of the night was when I bit down into the deliciously squishy thick-crust pizza.  After finishing up the great food and my second glass of pinot grigio, I was in no condition to meet prospective dates, so I continued the evening elsewhere with friends.

Meetup.com is a good source of easy-going, casual events if you just want to mingle and socialize with random people.  As a backup, be sure to grab a friend to curb potential awkwardness.  The events are not normally the flashy parties that we cover and the caliber of the events depends on the group that organizes the meet-ups, but it’s good for adding some newness into an otherwise lame day.


Grotta Azzurra
177 Mulberry Street

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