Paul Tonacci

Paul Tonacci, wine columnist for At The Shore, Thursday, May 28, 2015

The year 2016 brings the opportunity for some monster changes to the way South Jersey appreciates wine. Below are things that I hope to see this year in South Jersey’s wine scene in restaurants, liquor stores and winery tastings rooms across the area.

Prediction No. 1: Wine education will continue to be big business in South Jersey. Passion Vines offers weekly wine tastings in the their Somers Point location (265 New Road) between 4 and 7 p.m. Saturdays; there’s no reservation required to attend and their mini-tasting experiences are free but the business will happily accept donations to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Check for future theme-specific tasting happenings this year.

Likewise, Atlantic City Bottle Company continues to offer its weekly wine classes 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wine Educator Nick Salvia guides you through a sampling of whites and reds in a level of detail you won’t see outside of a sommelier study group. Classes cost $20 per person and require a reservation. Call 609-348-6400.

True, increasing wine education is not the boldest of predictions but perhaps what it potentially yields is! This coincidentally brings up my other predictions:

Prediction No. 2: Emboldened and wine-savvy diners will tell their favorite restaurants to hold the pinot grigio and instead pour a crisp Muscadet from the Loire Valley of France to pair with their oysters. With so many delightful restaurants serving up fresh seafood along our coastal counties, this development is overdue. During the summertime when oysters are in season, restaurants such as The Washington Inn (801 Washington St., Cape May) have been leading the way with this offering. Here’s hoping others follow suit in 2016!

Prediction No. 3: As people learn more about wine styles, flavors, food pairings and more, they’re going to want to see where and how it’s made. Many wineries offer tours of their facility, à la historic Renault Winery at 72 Bremen Ave. in Egg Harbor City. Tours there are offered daily at $10 per person and show where the fermentation, bottling and aging takes place.

Prediction No. 4: New Jersey wineries will continue to receive awards from nationally acclaimed publications which will continue to spread the good word about our state’s wine industry. Plagido’s Winery most recently received glowing remarks from’s Wine Writer Mark Squires, who described in detail his very pleasant tasting of the winery’s 2013 cabernet-merlot blend and 2013 cabernet sauvignon, both receiving 87 points on a 100-point scale.

Paul Tonacci, managing partner of Atlantic City Bottle Company and The Iron Room, is a Certified Sommelier, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), an American Wine Judge

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Associate Editor, At The Shore/ACWeekly

Associate Editor, At The Shore/ACWeekly

Freelance reporter for At The Shore/Atlantic City Insiders from 2011-2015; Editor in Chief,,2014-2015; Writer for Zagat, 2013

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