As I mentioned in a previous post, this last Christmas was the first Christmas that Alex and I spent just the two of us in California! We knew it was going to be a very different sort of holiday for us, so we wanted to do something a little more special for gift-giving this year. We came up with a “four gift guide exchange” in which we would gift each other one thing under a specified price limit, one homemade gift, one thrifted or found gift, and one experience.
This was such a fun sort of “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” to be on the lookout for during the months leading up to December 25th! Upon coming up with this plan, we both agreed that we would be putting the emphasis on gifting one another an experience.
As I get older, I realize that there is less “stuff” that I need, but what I really want more of is time spent with the ones I love, doing fun and different things that we’ll remember forever! Now, I always thought of myself as a pretty good gift-giver, but given Al’s track record the last few years, I think he may have me beat! Somehow, he always comes up with the most amazing gift experiences!
This year, Al gifted me a date night at LA’s newest winery, The Blending Lab! Located near The Grove, The Blending Lab sources its grapes from all over California, but makes the wine right here in LA. The company was started by three friends who are serious wine-lovers, and together, they have created a space where you and your friends can go and enjoy many different varieties of wine … and hey, you can really learn a little something, too!
The Blending Lab offers a blending course/wine tasting to whoever wants to sign up! It basically goes like this: you arrive and head to the back room where there sits a long table set with beakers and test tubes and lots of other cool little devices! You get poured three “mystery” wines, and together as a group, you taste each one and talk about what you’re seeing, smelling, and tasting between the three. If you know nothing about wine, have no fear! Your teacher will lead you through the entire process, and when the initial tasting is done, you find out what each wine was! This is a great method to find out what kind of wine your taste buds actually go nuts for without any bias! I especially loved watching Al blind taste the wine because he’s not normally a huge wine drinker … but it turns out he has quite the knack for pulling out the flavors, and found out he’s a Zinfandel fan!
After the initial tasting, the extra fun part starts: you begin to blend. And you record all the different blends you create. 25% of this, 60% of that … and when you finally come up with the absolute perfect blend, you do the math and blend your own entire bottle! How cool is that? Al and I left that night with our very own red wine blend, which we named “The Bublend,” after our own little Bub, Marty 😉 Something cool I learned is that there is a varietal of grapes called Tannat grapes, which are great blending grapes. In fact, they’re often blended in with Cab Sav varietals, but they don’t always have to be specified that way. So you may think you’re drinking a pure Cab Sav based on the label, but there are actually Tannat grapes in there as well!
Some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about signing up for The Blending Lab.
- This makes a great gift…for your significant other, your best group of friends, or even your parents! Give the gift of date night! Sign up early on their website!
- You will be consuming a good deal of alcohol. Plan your transportation accordingly.
- The class itself was just over two hours — much of which you’re just sippin’ wine and getting to know the people across from you (the best part)! We booked the 3:30 class and were done just after 5:30 … which was perfect dinner time! There are some really great restaurants within walking distance, so we recommend grabbing a bite to eat afterwards. We went to Slab, an awesome BBQ joint right down the street.
- When you sign up for the class, you don’t have to commit to buying a bottle of your own blend … you can add it on once you’re there, or not add one on at all!
- If you don’t want to take a class, stop on in anyway! They’re a full-functioning wine bar as well, and they have some really interesting bottles there for you to try!
Al and I had the best little date night at The Blending Lab near The Grove … we learned a lot about not just blending wine, but tasting it and how it’s made. We made some new friends. We did some math 😉 and we made some damn good wine! Our teacher, Michael, was super knowledgeable and fun to talk to, and the whole evening was just very relaxing, and most importantly, fun! I’m already scheming to bring my girlfriends back here for a blending class 😉
If you’re interested in checking out The Blending Lab, head on over to their website, which I’ve linked! And come back to my page soon to hear about my Christmas Gift Experience to Al … a rock climbing class!
thanks for stopping by!