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On the Town: GRAWA holds inaugural wine club event

Jimmy Paulino checks the brightness of one of the white wines as sommelier Nicole Casciani defines key terms like dull, bright, day bright, star bright and brilliant.

Jimmy Paulino checks the brightness of one of the white wines as sommelier Nicole Casciani defines key terms like dull, bright, day bright, star bright and brilliant.

Ashley Heisler is new to Rochester and newly admitted to the New York bar, but she is already fully invested in the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys — she is the co-chair of GRAWA’s first ever wine club, along with Jimmy Paulino. The inaugural event was held Sunday at the home of GRAWA President Melanie Wolk.

“We hope to introduce members to different wines by getting them out of their ‘wine comfort zone,’” Heisler. said “Our goal is to educate the members, making wine and wine education more accessible.”

With the guidance of sommelier Nicole Casciani, of Pittsford Wine and Spirits at Schoen Place, the GRAWA group tasted five French wines. In addition to providing background on the grapes and regions in which the grapes are grown, Casciani explained the various aspects of appearance — brightness, intensity, viscosity — along with how to properly swirl the wine and identify a specific aroma or bouquet.

This particular event focused on French wines, including a sparkling white Brut by Francois Montand, a sauvignon blanc by Saint Bris, and a chardonnay called Les Perles. A Patch Block merlot and a 2012 Carignan were the reds of the day.

Attendees asked questions about everything from screw caps to food pairings. The interactive discussion included the opportunity to sample an assortment of appetizers and snacks.

Heisler is currently a volunteer assistant attorney general at the Rochester Regional Office, and her fiancé James Strandjord works at the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. They met at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., both completing law school on the accelerated schedule and sitting for the bar in February 2013.

Ashleigh Burrows, Bethany Centrone and Margaret Sanchez listen as the sommelier describes the bold taste of a smooth and smoky merlot.

Ashleigh Burrows, Bethany Centrone and Margaret Sanchez listen as the sommelier describes the bold taste of a smooth and smoky merlot.

Paulino, an associate at Goldberg Segalla, is also active in the Guys for GRAWA committee. He assisted Casciani in pouring wine and keeping the conversation light-hearted.

Casciani works with her mother, who purchased Pittsford Wines in February 2009. In addition to carrying unique varieties and offering complimentary bags and tissue, the Cascianis also keep a record of previous purchases — making it easy to identify that great merlot you bought last February.

Although the next wine club event has not been scheduled, GRAWA is hoping to hold an event in January — check the website for updates.

“Jimmy and I will be sure to get everyone out of the house to beat the loneliness of winter by introducing the group to new wines, new foods and hopefully new friends,” Heisler added. “The events are open to GRAWA members looking to learn a little more about wine.”

Heisler first became interested in wines because her parents are involved in wine clubs in Connecticut. She has been exposed to many wines and the education that inevitably came along with it.

– Photos by Nora A. Jones

Cheese, crackers, tapenade, olives, and assorted meats were enjoyed with the wines.

Cheese, crackers, tapenade, olives, and assorted meats were enjoyed with the wines.

Several French wines were discussed and taste-tested at the Nov. 3 GRAWA wine club event.

Several French wines were discussed and taste-tested at the Nov. 3 GRAWA wine club event.

James Strandjord and Ashley Heisler, wine club co-chair, discuss the sparkling wine over appetizers.

James Strandjord and Ashley Heisler, wine club co-chair, discuss the sparkling wine over appetizers.

GRAWA President Melanie Wolk enjoyed hosting the event.

GRAWA President Melanie Wolk enjoyed hosting the event.

Marisa Miller holds Redmond Wolk while Nicole Intschert listens to a description of the Patch Block Merlot.

Marisa Miller holds Redmond Wolk while Nicole Intschert listens to a description of the Patch Block Merlot.

Nicole Intschert and Mary D’Agostino were among the new GRAWA members participating in wine club.

Nicole Intschert and Mary D’Agostino were among the new GRAWA members participating in wine club.

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