DINING

Leblanc's rings in New Year with wine

Charlotte Guedry
Randy LeBlanc and Mickey Martin are thrilled that the wine tastings at LeBlanc’s Food Stores have been a huge success.

Wine has long been synonymous with entertaining. Dinner parties and holiday gatherings often have wine as the staple drink of choice. Many a deal has been made or a life altered simply by the uncorking of a bottle.

Gaining knowledge and an understanding of wine has been on the upswing in the last few years. Long gone are the days of wine simply being a drink for the elite. Now, everyone seems to have their favorite tipple, and wine ranks highly. LeBlanc’s Food Stores hosts free wine tastings to educate the parish public on the ins and outs of wine.

“You have to get people to taste wines in order for them to enjoy them,” said LeBlanc Wine Specialist Mickey Martin. “We started the wine tastings to get people excited about wines, and they are really taking off.”

Each week, representatives from different vendors and distributors are on hand to offer free samples and information about each wine. They are trained to answer questions ranging from which wine goes with which food, to which wine makes the best statement.

“The tastings are free to the public, and begin at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday in Gonzales and Friday in Prairieville,” said Martin. “We continue the tastings until everyone slows down. They are a lot of fun. We have wines ranging from $5 to $50, so there’s something for everyone.”

Owner Randy LeBlanc agrees that the tastings have been successful. “We want to be the parish destination for wines and spirits,” said LeBlanc. “The samplings are an integral part in accomplishing that. Not only do they allow our residents to become more knowledgable about wines, but our staff as well. That way, we can better inform our customers on a daily basis.”

This week, to commemorate New Year’s Eve, the tasting will highlight sparkling wines. Representatives will offer upwards of 15 wines during the tasting. “This is the first time we’ve focused solely on sparkling wines, so we’re excited. It should be a great event,” said Martin.

Apart from the weekly tastings, LeBlanc’s also hosts two different wine extravaganzas each year. The events are held in the spring and the fall at Elegant Affairs. “Tickets for these events are $20 per person,” said LeBlanc. “People can taste fine wines, listen to live jazz, and sample some wonderful food. The proceeds for these events go to support a scholarship fund in the name of my parents.”

The wine tastings at LeBlanc’s Food Stores are proving to be a success, and Martin is excited about giving local residents an insight into the drink. “We already have around 800 people who have signed up for my e-newsletter about wine,” he said. “It’s great that people are interested.”

For more information about the tastings, or to sign up for the wine newsletter, email Mickey Martin on mmartin@leblancs.net. You can also visit leblancsfoodstores.com.