Local group helps make learning about wine fun

Published Nov 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm (Updated Nov 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm)

Choosing a good wine for a special dinner or a hostess gift can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task.

Fortunately, groups like Women for WineSense (WWS), a “wine education and networking organization for wine industry professionals and wine enthusiasts” are available to help make learning about wine a great experience.

Haley Kozlowski, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of WWS, said they provide “wine education without the snooty part.”

In the wine business for years, Kozlowski first learned about WWS while traveling for business in the Finger Lakes, New York area. A friend invited her to an event sponsored by the WWS Rochester chapter, and after attending, Kozlowski knew she wanted to start a chapter in her home town. She enlisted the help of two former colleagues, Belinda Alvarez and Ryta Mirisciotti, and WWS Pittsburgh was formed.

Now in its fourth year, WWS Pittsburgh has about 70 members, most of them from the city and northern suburbs. But, Kozlowski would like to see more women from Pittsburgh’s South Hills join their organization.

Kozlowski said their chapter has members of all ages and at different levels of education about wine, so no one ever feels awkward about asking a question. They come from many different backgrounds, but all share a passion for wine.

“I love seeing people and the way they progress in their understanding of wine, how it works with food and all the components,” Kozlowski said.

While the group is called Women for WineSense, men are also welcome, and members are encouraged to bring guests to events hosted by the chapter. Kozlowski said there is usually a chapter-sponsored event every other month, with extra events listed on their calendar. This past November, the group sponsored an overnight bus trip to the Finger Lakes and visited numerous wineries in the area.

WWS Pittsburgh has three levels of membership: professional – for those working in the wine industry – aficionado and student.

For more information, visit www.womenforwinesense.org.

Sidebar: Holiday Wines

Looking for some great wines for the holidays? Women for WineSense – Pittsburgh Chapter offers these suggestions:

Sparkling Wine

Specifically Flama Roja Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine made in the methode champenoise. This is a great cocktail wine to serve with appetizers before the feast or for a toast.

Dry Rose

Veleta Tempranillo Rose is flavorful, yet not overpowering, and pairs well with turkey and a variety of sides, including cranberry sauces or a salad course. It’s a definite ‘got to’ wine for a wide variety of food flavors.

French Chardonnay

Domaine Tripoz Macon Charnay is an excellent choice for holiday meals. Its rich flavor, but crisp and long finish, will pair very well with turkey or duck and is a friend to stuffing, even meat stuffing.


Consul Chileno Carmenere provides fullness of flavor for die hard red wine drinkers, can stand up to beef or red pasta sauces, but will not overpower turkey or other popular holiday fare. A very subtle spice makes this wine pop with food. Even white wine fans will enjoy this Carmenere.


Merlot is making a comeback, especially well crafted Merlot like Brix25 Merlot from California. If your holiday meal favorites include beef tenderloin or rich, red pasta sauces, Brix25Merlot will not disappoint. It is rich in flavor and body but holds a smooth, lingering finish.

All wines are available through NG Wine Services & Importing, Inc., “A Virtual Wine Concierge Service.” For more information, call 412-841-4478 or email ryta@nakedgrape.net">ryta@nakedgrape.net.

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