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Article Published: Nov. 11, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The 32nd annual Charity Wine Tasting Expo Nov 20.

Zip up that cocktail dress, strap on those heels; pull on that coat and straighten that tie. It's time for what Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants' Kevin Burnette calls "the most enjoyable event that happens in Boone, hands down."

It's the 32nd annual Charity Wine Tasting Expo.

"You get to see everyone you know dressed up and having a blast," he said. "It really invigorates the spirit."

That might have something to do with the main event: The wine. Expect between 150 and 200 selections, enough to turn you from uninitiated to an enthusiast.

"There is no such thing as amateur," Burnette said.

There's just something about that corked beverage that has had people obsessed for generations.

"Wine is alive," he said. "It's just a reinvigoration of the spirit. It's one of those things. It's hard to describe. It's like talking about your wife or talking about your dog or about the book you're going to write or the painting you're going to paint... it levels the playing field for discussion and expressing yourself."

And, like all the Peabody's peeps, he knows his wine. Burnette's been at Peabody's about eight years, but you don't need years of training to feel like an expert Nov. 20. Expect to hear people use terms like "spicy, oaky and smoky," commonly used to describe certain wines, and words like "round" and "anise."

"Anise is like fennel, like licorice, things of that nature," he said.

And round?

"It kind of encompasses every part of the palette," he said. "Round to me is kind of fleshy. It has equal parts muscle to fat... it kind of hits everything and kind of smoothes out at the very end."

There is no wrong answer. Whether you describe your sip as "berry" or "chocolaty," it's all about individual tastes and perceptions, tastes honed from the wide selection.

While most find the main four appealing ("chardonnay, cabernet, merlot and zinfandel"), that's just scratching the surface. Give a peppery shiraz a try or sample the crisp sweetness of a Beaujolais Nouveau.

And, as your making your picks, think about those holiday events coming up. When people come to Burnette for suggestions, he has several questions he asks before arriving on that perfect bottle. "What's your budget?"

And you'd be surprised. While wine has a reputation as an expensive hobby, several varieties are quite economical and some wineries offer discounts for buying by the case at the event.

"Are you eating with it?"

Some of his favorite Thanksgiving varieties, for example, pair perfectly with turkey, wines like chardonnay, white burgundy and pinot noir.

"What do you hate?"

It's an easy question for attendees of the festival, and a lot of fun to answer because it involves a lot of trial and error. While you'll find several varieties captivating, there's always one that's unappealing to your palette. "It's one of the first things that everyone always remembers," Burnette laughed.

"What do you like?"

Make a list, because chances are you'll find a few.

"Last year, there was a bottle of cabernet that friends told me I was going to have to name my first child after: Pavi Fisticuffs," he said.

While Burnette's list of questions goes on, he says it's important not to think about the answers before the tasting.

"Come in with an open mind, and you'll enjoy everything," he said.

The event is also about good conversation and good friends because, as Burnette will tell you, you'll see the whole community.

"Wine is a social lubricant," he said. "It's perfect for great conversations."

And it's going to be accompanied by great food from area restaurants, restaurants like the Gamekeeper, Char and Bistro Roca.

Proceeds from the event go to the Watauga Education Foundation at WNCW.

It all happens Saturday, Nov. 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center's Powers Grand Hall and Alumni Hall. Limited tickets are $45 per person and available at Peabody's.
Want a preview?

Peabody's hosts beer tastings every Tuesday at 5 p.m. and wine tastings Thursday sat 5 p.m. and Saturdays at noon.

Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants is located at 1104 N.C. 105 in Boone. For more information, call (828) 264-9476 or visit

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