The end of tuxedos and cleavage The moment you hear "wine tasting" combined with "art gallery," you smirk at the picture your mind paints. Admit

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The Vine Print

The end of tuxedos and cleavage The moment you hear "wine tasting" combined with "art gallery," you smirk at the picture your mind paints. Admit it, you see paunchy, well-dressed, middle-aged men with close-cropped beards, Gucci-clutching women in revealing evening gowns, and polite chat about the dreadful state of postmodernism. Sure, there's plenty of that silliness going on. But I also see a casualness inching its way into the wine world. For proof, visit Lead Gallery & Wine Bar (1022 First, 623-6240) any Monday night for an informal wine tasting even rank beginners will love. Lead's wine guy, Jay Kuehner, chooses specific themes (region, grape variety, winery, or vintage) for his tastings, and he'll set you up with four fascinating examples within a theme for under 20 bucks. For you newbies, you won't be called upon to wax eloquent about the wines, but Jay is always available if you want to ask questions or make comments. The food? Excellent, innovative, affordable, and complementary to the wines. To see a listing of the Monday night wine-tasting themes, visit www.LeadGalleryWineBar.com. When a conglomerate swallows a small winery It's always amusing when a large corporation tries to rationalize its purchase of a small company to that company's existing customers. Typically, they blow smoke up our collective asses with promises of "making the products even better by making more resources available." Yes, it's usually total bullshit—we almost never benefit. Here's an exception: Not long ago, the Chalone Wine Group, a large holding company for California and Washington wineries, bought Staton Hills in the Columbia Valley. Chalone really did bring necessary resources to what were once mediocre winemaking efforts. The winery has been renamed Sagelands Vineyard and they just released two new wines. The '98 Sagelands Cabernet Sauvignon offers delicious flavors of black cherry and blackberry, with velvety tannins that'll let you drink much more than you really should. Surprisingly, their '98 Sagelands Merlot has even more tannins, along with tasty spice and raspberry. Both wines are $15. E-mail: wine@seattleweekly.com

 
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