Quick: go look up "heaven" in the nearest available dictionary. Is there a Smoking Loon label taped next to it? No? That's funny—there is one in mine. Of course, I guzzle bottles of the $5.99 wine (especially the cabernet—currently on special at Ralphs and Albertson's!) like it's the sweet nectar of the gods, which helps explain two things: 1) my penchant for bawling during every single reality-TV tearjerker, from American Idol to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and 2) my absolute lack of any real knowledge about wine. I mean, why bother with the stuff of mere mortals?
Still, every now and then, it's sorta fun to dress up, grab the significant other, hit up a hip restaurant and pretend for a few hours—with the help of Capital One, maybe—that heaven is actually more than just a step or two up from hobo wine. Normally, this can be accomplished by asking for the waiter's recommended wine, but that's also a fairly hit-or-miss option, depending on the restaurant—and the waiter. Which is why this week's Flora Springs wine dinner at the Melting Pot is so cool: Nat Combs from Napa Valley's Flora Springs Winery will be on hand to share some choice chardonnays, merlots and "single appellation" (whatever that means) cabs in between four courses of the restaurant's signature fondue. It's also suggested that you bring some friends along, too, as there'll be a raffle for bottles of wine and gift certificates, not to mention some trivia. If you're anything like me, though, it might be a good idea to leave the dictionary at home. Just this once.
Flora Springs wine dinner at the Melting Pot, 2646 Dupont Dr., Ste. C70, Irvine, (949) 955-3242; www.meltingpot.com. Tues., 6-9 p.m. $65 per person (includes parting gift). Reservations required.