Worth every bit of the hassle

Driving in the Boston area is really never any fun. Bad, yelling drivers abound everywhere. For me, I usually just avoid getting behind the wheel at all costs, even if that means something like the Death March of Bataan for me and my kids to run errands.

But there is one reason I'll get behind the wheel and it's the same reason I may just end up changing my name to Nipsey Russell - I will drive our enormously square minivan to visit the wine and beer gurus at the Wine Gallery in Brookline.

Often, I will think of any excuse to throw caution to the wind and take a trip to see my friends that sell these various libations. Navigating the traffic, pot holes, and maniacal driving habits of Bostonians, I don my driving helmet and hit the road.

I don't really wear a driving helmet, but I would if I had to to get to the Wine Gallery.

The Wine Gallery is the place for all sorts of beer, wine, and makings for cocktails. Two staff members, Kai McMurty and Spence, have this amazing user-friendly-layperson way about themselves so that if you arrive in a flurry, trying to figure out what the best wine might be for a broiled skirt steak (or roasted pork loin, or duck or goose or whathaveyou), they will calmly direct you to the right bottle(s). Further, Kai knows a boatload about beer, particularly Belgian beer. So, when Scott and I try to do the eyelids-half-shut know-it-all thing about Trappists ales, he can easily introduce us to the latest find of Belgian ale that's matured in the Champagne region of France (@ $30 a bottle). DeuS.

The other super-awesome element at the Wine Gallery is a wine-juke-box.

I kid you not.

Without a quarter or any bad 38. Special blasting over furry speakers, you can enjoy just a swallow of a random selection of thirty or so wines. Gratis.

My friend Ted Burnes and I found ourselves a couple of years ago without kids in tow playing a game of Guess Which Wine.

He won. I failed miserably but I'd happily play again, if it's just to lose.

And in case I haven't convinced you enough for reason to consider a death-defying drive down Route 9, Brookline, the staff at Wine Gallery knows how to recommend the superlative of hostess gifts -

- a bottle of St-Germain. A super-sexy French liqueor by way of the Alps. This elderberry concoction can be mixed with Champagne or white wine and club soda to create a nicely refreshing drink.

Ice cubes
2 ounces St. Germain
2 ounces Champagne
Chilled club soda

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