Wine Brats are fun, not highfalutin - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Wine Brats are fun, not highfalutin

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Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2004 9:14 am | Updated: 5:04 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Contrary to their name, the Wine Brats are an amicable group of folks — except for one, who’s an obnoxious boor.

Just kidding. None of the Wine Brats is whiny or unpleasant in the least.

Instead, they’re a group of wine aficionados who throw convention to the wind and recognize that wine can be intimidating, so they get together and enjoy wine without all the attitude.

The national nonprofit group has chapters in nearly 30 cities, from New York to the Orange County area. The first Valley event was held in May 2003 and their next is planned for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Suede in Scottsdale — a younger, hipper setting than a wine tasting room.

"I don’t know that people in their late 20s and early 30s go to wine tastings," said board member Rachel Petschel of Scottsdale, who is 30.

That doesn’t mean they practice reverse carding, though, where anyone older than 40 is excluded. David Suttmiller of Scottsdale is 46 and on the board of the Phoenix chapter. In fact, the Wine Brats are by their own definition "an active group of adult wine enthusiasts who are mostly young in age but absolutely young at heart."

Hopefully their approach will create more wine lovers. Most of the independent wine shops and wine bars I frequent are fun and laidback, and they accommodate all levels of drinkers. But Petschel is right — the crowd often seems to be mid-30s and older, which can be off-putting to the younger set.

Also, there’s still a perception that the word "wine" can’t be separated from "snob." There are ways to combat this.

For instance, the tasting at Suede will include a pronunciation key for those tricky French wine names, along with the usual tasting notes and a regional map. I contend that people don’t order what they can’t pronounce, which is why chardonnay and cabernet remain so popular. When people start teaching drinkers how to say things like viognier (vee-on-YAY), or when waiters stop acting superior when someone makes a mistake, people will get more adventurous.

I’m off the soapbox now and heading out for a glass of vino. Learn more about the group at and

Wine tasting of the week

French wines from Southern Provencian, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Suede, 7333 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale. $35 includes food pairings. Information: (480) 970-6969.

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