There are people who love drinking wine and there are people who love talking about wine. Tara Carson is both. As the Idaho Falls On-Premise Sales Rep for BRJ Distributing and a part-time employee at Marcellars, Carson is well-educated in the history and art of wine. It’s her true passion to learn all that she can about wine and to share it with others. She believes that “every sip is a story.”
When you learn how much work, history, and art goes into each bottle of wine, it’s easy to see how every sip is a story. Each bottle of wine is different, yet many bottles go through similar processes of harvesting, crushing, fermentation, aging, and bottling. As people learn more about wine, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort that goes into making each bottle.
About six months ago, Carson had the exciting idea to take her passion for wine and put it online. This is what sparked the initial idea for the “Between Two Bottles” endeavor. In April 2020, she and her BRJ Distributing co-worker, Kyle Meda, began tasting wines and talking about them on videos that she would share on the “Between Two Bottles” Facebook page. Carson’s method was to choose a random bottle of wine, learn about how it was made, where it came from, then taste it, and talk about her impressions.
Carson said, “My kids and fiance are bored by how much I love talking about wine. They don’t care, so I want to talk to people that want to learn and care as much as I do.” She hoped that by reaching out on Facebook, she would find a group of like-minded aficionados.
“Between Two Bottles” is a page where anyone can visit to learn more about wine. Questions are encouraged. Even if you think it might be a silly question, Carson is eager to answer it.
Carson noted, “There is a stigma about wine and wine drinkers that you have to act like you know more than you do.”
However, when it comes to wine (and life) we all start somewhere and questions help us learn. Carson wants “Between Two Bottles” to be clear of any “wine-snob” stigmas.
When it started, Carson would share a Facebook video of her and Kyle trying new wines and discussing each one once a week. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, her intentions changed. She noticed that many of her wine distribution accounts were going to struggle and she wanted to find a way to help. So, instead of only trying wine, she and Kyle, along with her best friend, and her fiance, came up with the ingenious idea to partner with small, locally-owned restaurants for food pairings to go with each week’s wine tastings. Not only does Carson feel passionate about wine, but she’s also passionate about supporting small, local businesses.
“We are all having a hard time with COVID-19, and to bring some light to anyone we can feels really good...even the people at home now having a dinner date. And they are putting money into these establishments that are struggling. It's a win-win for both sides.”
On Wednesdays, the wines and restaurants are announced on the “Between Two Bottles” Facebook page. Then, on Saturdays at 7 p.m., Carson does a Facebook Live to virtually drink wine and eat dinner with everyone. This gives people a few days to plan ahead and purchase the food and wine they’ll need for Saturday. During the Facebook Live, Carson and her guests talk about the tasting notes, history, fun facts, and labels of the wine while someone from the restaurant they feature talks about the food.
One restaurant featured on the “Between Two Bottles” was Cardamom, Cuisine of India. Cardamom created a menu for followers to purchase and eat that would pair well with the two wine choices from “Between Two Bottles.” On this particular week, the wines chosen were a 2017 white Wine by Joe Pinot Gris and a red, 2014 Silver Peak Zinfandel. Tara and Kyle were joined around the table by Sheba from Cardamom, who had chosen a sweet but spicy chicken mango curry to pair with the Pinot Gris and lamb ribs with chutney sauce to go with the Zinfandel.
Tara and Kyle make a good pairing themselves. Tara exudes a fun, funky vibe, and Kyle has a staid, button-upped feel. Together their personalities appeal to a wide range of palates. The Wine by Joe was described as "easy-going" and a "crowd-pleaser," with scents of citrus and a palate of warm spice accents like vanilla and candied ginger. Tara elucidated on the wine-maker, Joe Dobbs, his Oregon winery and his family, informing the audience that each month the proceeds from one of their wines goes to charity. Kyle gave a glowing review of all the care that goes into the growing of their grapes. He said that Wine by Joe gives "good bang for your buck," noting that the price of a bottle of wine doesn't necessarily correspond with the quality. Sheba noticed that the crispness of the wine cut through the sweetness of the mango. One of the audience enjoying the multi-sensory evening agreed, stating, "Excellent pairing with Joe. Thank you!"
Many positive comments came in throughout the live broadcast including, "Loving the history!" "Love this part! Food talk is great," was a comment seen while Sheba demonstrated how to eat the Indian food and sauces and described the preparation of the dishes.
When they moved on to the Zinfandel, Kyle described the aroma as "jammy," with a hint of pepper and heavy leather, almost musky—though it has a nice finish to it. Tara liked the smokiness of the wine. Kyle said, "This one's definitely an attention grabber." Tara teaches that the family behind the Silver Peak label came to Lodi California in 1883, went to Brooklyn for a time, but came back to California to make great wine. Sheba felt that this wine complemented the lamb ribs very well.
The Cardamom chef, Michael, came out to join the group to discuss how the wine tames the spices of the Indian cuisine, though the spices are not so much about the heat as they are about the flavors. It was pointed out that there are a number of divergent areas in India, each one with its own regional foods. The evening ended with a dessert infused with saffron and topped with a pomegranate syrup and candied pepitas. Surprisingly, both wines paired excellently well with the confection. The viewers all indicated that they greatly enjoyed the evening sharing wine, food and conversation.
This interactive format is unique and follows along both the conversation and the consumption of the meal. By introducing the wines and restaurants ahead of time, people are encouraged to support local businesses. If customers don’t want to buy the food, they can just buy the wines that will be featured. Marcellars and Tap-N-Fill, wine and brew shops in Idaho Falls, typically stock the featured wines—though “Between Two Bottles” will inform followers which stores have the wine available on Wednesdays when they announce their bottle choices. Carson foresees “Between Two Bottles” to continue to partner with local restaurants in the future, even when COVID-19 restrictions begin lifting.
Tara Carson loves wine. She enjoys experimenting with new pairings, whether it’s with a steak or Hot Cheetos—which only goes to show that she is no wine snob. She loves learning everything she can about each bottle she drinks and she loves to share that passion with others. Her page, “Between Two Bottles,” is one any wine-lover will enjoy. With the support group from behind the scenes and the establishments who are making Facebook Live wine tastings happen, “Between Two Bottles,” is definitely a page on the rise. Follow along to learn more about the story in every sip.
Facebook: Between two Bottles
Interviewed: Tara Carson
Photos: From Facebook Page