I was born and raised in Rahway. My idea of fine dining was Ted's Pizza on Whittier Street. (Actually, it still kind of is) I listen to Bruce Springsteen; not opera, nor classical music. My idea of a sexy song for my wife would be "Push It" by Garbage, not Bolero by Maurice Ravel. Oh, perhaps the most telling fact of all. I've been known to drink Diet Mountain Dew.

So I'm not a snooty guy.

My wife and I had a rare morning off together on Friday and she wanted to do two things. One, walk around Duke Estate in Hillsborough. Two, go to a wine tasting at Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes.

(Screeching brakes sound effect)

A wine tasting???

I always assumed only the pinkies-out-while-drinking sort goes to a wine tasting. I know virtually nothing about wine. I care nothing about 'wine pairings.' I don't like white wine. So it really wouldn't matter what seafood I'd be eating. If I wanted a red wine I'd still have it. Yeah, I know, "but the right wine compliments the food"...whatever. Just give me a cheap wine or better yet a Jack and Coke and be done with it.

So I never had any desire whatsoever to go to a wine tasting. The problem is, I love my wife. She's wanted to do this with me for some time. I thought about it and realized maybe I'm the one being the snob only in reverse. Maybe I needed to challenge my conventions and find out for myself.

First, we went to Duke Estate and walked around the grounds. Now to make sure I was hanging on to my blue collar Jersey roots I made damn sure we brought along some pork roll egg and cheese sandwiches for the walk (see picture gallery) to really class things up. If you recall Friday's weather was beautiful so this was a really good time.

Then we drove out to Ringoes to Unionville Vineyards and I have to tell you, I'm so glad I did. It's a peaceful, bucolic place. Easy to find, easy to park, and the 'tasting room' is upstairs inside what looks like a beautiful old barn. Now yes, I'd be more in my comfort zone if it weren't called a 'tasting room' but just a 'bar' (think Rocky's on West Grand in Rahway). But I digress.

We walked in and the first thing I noticed was how comfortable and casual the place looked. Then the guy behind the bar (can I say bar if it's in a tasting room?) had long hair and was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. Was I expecting a bow tie? I'm not sure. I later found out his name is Joe and he was a down to earth, friendly, not at all pretentious guy like I thought someone in that job would be. See? Shows what I know. Plus he absolutely knew his stuff about wine, but was in no way overbearing with it or hovering over you. We sampled eight different wines and they were among the best I ever had. We wound up buying 4 bottles. Plus they had outdoor picnic tables where you could sit and check out the peaceful scenery and drink a full glass of wine, which we did after the sampling.

Not at all what I expected, and everyone there was amazingly friendly and real. So glad I went. My wife and I had a great time. Now this doesn't mean that I still can't enjoy a Bud Light and a Bruce song while sitting on my front lawn wearing my three wolves howling at the moon t-shirt with my feet in a kiddie pool next to the car up on cinder blocks. Just sayin'.

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