Bottoms up!

Harp music wafting across thick red carpet, a few hundred well-dressed people sipping cool white Chardonnay and murmuring something about "legs" and "HDL levels." What a perfect illusion of Dallas sophistication, of Texas savvy: Hang out at the Meyerson in your coolest duds and sip the most acclaimed regional wine on the market. Sound pretentious? Suspect? Well, it's for a good cause, as in, the well-being of your throbbing love organ. No, not that one. Your heart.

This is more than a standard wine-soaked soiree staged at a mildewy pub or in some connoisseur's velvet-draped parlor. This is the Sixth Annual Wine Tasting hosted by the Dallas Heart Ball, and there's no better way to interrupt a mid-week work jag than to leave the office and head straight to the sparkling symphony center for a little spirited imbibing. (You're supposed to spit it out after swooshing it around in your mouth, remember? C'mon...) For $25 bucks, you can sample the red, white, and blush while hearing about why the stuff is so important from those in the know--the grape growers and the heart doctors (the latter still recommend a glass a day to keep 'em away).

There are several reasons this event is noteworthy: The proceeds go to a special research endowment at UT Southwestern Medical Center, headed up by Dr. Ronald Victor--a man hot on the cure-trail of hypertension and heart disease. The zinfandel, cabernet, et al. come straight from Texas vineyards, a growing industry that's been getting plenty of media attention lately. Hidden Springs Winery, Pheasant Ridge Winery, Bell Mountain Vineyard--if you haven't heard of them yet, this is a great way to see what all the fuss is about. And you may come away with a better idea of what to serve (or not serve) at your next dinner party. There is also a live auction for prizes such as a vacation to Napa Valley or a wine-tasting for up to 20 people.

Quick etiquette lesson: Don't get soused; always hold a glass of white wine by the stem, not the bowl; and whatever you do, don't call what you're sampling "swill" or "hooch"--its maker may overhear you. On the other hand, blurt out the traditional toast "Confusion to our enemies!" and see if anyone raises a glass.

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--Christina Rees

The Sixth Annual Wine Tasting sponsored by the Dallas Heart Ball happens Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony center. $25 advance, $30 at the door. For more info, call (214) 740-5500.

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