– By Jo-Ann Ross

How about touring the cities of Boston and Cambridge by foot wine glass by wine glass? Along comes City Wine Tours. Initiated in May of 2011, City Wine Tours is a wonderful walking wine tour featuring great wine along with the exciting flavor of neighborhood culture. Two neighborhoods are highlighted below – Harvard Square and the North End.

(Photo Credit: JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)

The Harvard Square Tour

Stop #1:

Hotel Veritas

1 Remington Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617) 520-5000
website and info

Hotel Veritas is an independent hotel located on the edge of Harvard Square offering personalized service in an intimate Cantabrigian setting. The Hotel Veritas is the only high-end small hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts and guests are as diverse as Harvard University and the city itself. The City Wine Tour of Harvard Square starts at the Veritas with a reception sparkling wine as well as some delectable cheeses. The second wine, usually a white wine, is used to teach such practical wine skills as how to taste wine and how to properly open a bottle with a wine key (or waiter’s helper).

Stop #2:

Casablanca Restaurant

40 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 876-0999
Hours: DINNER: Sun-Thur 6-10pm / Fri & Sat 6-10:30pm
LUNCH: Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm
BRUNCH: Sun 11:00am-3:00pm
website and info

Prior to visiting the Casablanca Restaurant, “A Legendary Neighborhood Joint in Harvard Square”, guests explore Harvard Yard, the Lampoon Building, and some other exciting Harvard landmarks. Then, to continue the “Harvard” mood, guests enter the Casablanca Restaurant, a wonderful local restaurant where professors, their students, artists, writers, and many neighborhood folks have been congregating for years. Guests enjoy two tastings at the Casablanca while they view the exciting wall murals depicting the glory of old Casablanca. Restaurant Staff members are on hand to provide entertaining stories about Harvard life.

Stop #3:

The Harvest Restaurant

44 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 868-2255
Hours: Lunch 11:30am to 2:00pm, Monday–Saturday
Dinner 5:30pm to 10:00pm, Sunday–Thursday / 5:30pm to 11:00pm, Friday and Saturday
Sunday Brunch 11:30am–2:30pm
website and info

The Harvest, another Harvard Square Restaurant Legend, is just a few steps away, and the next stop. Guests pass the former home of vintage 70s Design Research, where patrons at that time could purchase Marimekko frocks or Chemex coffee makers. They then enter The Harvest, and look around for ghosts of Julia Child or Jackie O, who frequently dined here. As two more wines are tasted, staff members discuss the plethora of now famous local chefs who have trained here. The Harvest’s wine sommelier selects surprise wines each week. Guests learn how to review a wine menu and consider wine choices based on the restaurant’s culinary delights.

(Photo Credit: PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images)

The North End Tour

Stop #1:

The Fairmont Battery Wharf

3 Battery Wharf
Boston, Massachusetts 02109
(617) 994-9000
website and info

The Boston Waterfront is bustling and thriving, and the stunning Fairmont Battery Wharf is just another jewel in the crown. This sophisticated and elegant boutique hotel is the location of the first two tastings. While we look out over the Boston Harbor, we learn the proper technique to open, serve and store a bottle of delicious Prosecco. We then experience and discuss the sight, sound, aroma, and taste of another white wine selected by the hotel’s experienced wine staff. The Fairmont Battery Wharf, formerly the location of the famous Bay State Lobster Company, boasts the fabulous Aragosta Bar and Bistro, headed by David Daniels, certainly no stranger to the Boston dining scene.

We now head down Hanover Street and enter the Paul Revere Mall. While gazing at the famous statue of Paul Revere on horseback, we can also glance at the Old North Church in the distance. We are all standing in such a fabulous site of American History, and we recognize the tremendous contribution of Paul Revere the patriot. But did we know that Paul Revere, expert silversmith, crafted wine goblets? As we make our way into the Old North Church, we are told about the North End Molasses Flood of 1919 killing 21 people and injuring many more. Did the molasses tank explode as part of a terrorist plot, or was the tank overfilled so that more molasses would be available for the distillation of rum? It was 1919, and Prohibition was on the horizon.

Stop # 2:

Bacco Ristorante and Bar

107 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 624-0454
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:00pm -10:00pm/ Sat & Sun 4:00pm – 11:00pm
website and info

Walking down Salem Street, we notice many wonderful eateries and food stores. No time to stop, because we are expected at Bacco Ristorante and Bar. The lovely Vina greets us with a mouthwatering, chilled Pinot Grigio and a rustic Chianti Classico as we learn to pair the best foods to accompany these wines. The full length windows are opened, and the joys and aromas of this North End eatery have the effect of transporting us to Italy in no time flat.

Stop #3:

Salumeria Italiana

151 Richmond Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-8743
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. / Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
website and info

Salumeria Italiana is the home of some of the finest foods from Italy and all of the Mediterranean. We are handed a sample of delectable Prosciutto Crudo, Pecorino, a piece of mouthwatering pane, and a small spoonful of the most delicious olive oil reminiscent of being in the olive groves of Sicily. We overhear a customer ask one of the shopkeepers for a restaurant recommendation. The shopkeeper replies, “Don’t go out. Buy it here and cook it at home!” The store just brings out the “little Italian” in all of us.

Stop #4:

The Wine Bottega

341 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-6607
Hours: Sunday-Monday: 12pm-8pm
Tuesday-Wednesday: 11am-9pm
Thursday: 11am-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 10am-10pm
website and info

This cozy, little wine shop is, as the owner Kerri says, “dedicated to discovering and sharing small production, hand crafted wines. “ The passion for wine is quite evident! We taste two very unique wines, a very luscious white wine from the Marche region of Italy followed by a Nero d’Avola from Sicily. Kerri leads the wine tasting and discusses the joys of selecting and buying wine in a small wine shop.

City Wine Tours happen every Saturday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm. A tour of the South End, with three stops, is on the horizon. What a way to learn about wine!

Jo-Ann is Chief Wine Educator of J Ross Wine. She creatively pairs wine with anything other than food – art, music, jewelry, hand-blown glassware. You can contact her at jross@jrosswine.com or follow her at @jrosswine.