The customary way to get face time with a sommelier is well understood. Make a reservation at one of the upscale restaurants that typically employ these certified wine pros and ask for advice on your bottle of the night. However, a new program beginning next week is designed to give a different type of access to some of the city’s top sommeliers.

The Somm’s Pick series at Swirl Wine Bar & Market (3143 Ponce De Leon St., 504-304-0635; invites a different sommelier into the shop each month. They’ll lead tastings of two selections plus a third blind tasting, to get a firsthand feel for some key wine evaluation skills. Swirl proprietor Beth Ribblett also hopes the event will give people curious about a wine career a chance to talk shop with the sommeliers.

“The restaurant scene here is exploding and more places have wine programs,” she said. “We’re going to need more professionals in the field.”

The Somm’s Pick events are scheduled for the first Tuesday of the month from 6-8 p.m. Registration ($10) is required through Swirl. The series begins Feb. 3 with Dan Davis, sommelier at Commander’s Palace (where they generally just call him “the wine guy”). It continues with Liz Dowty of Square Root, Michelle Gueydan of the wine consultancy Vino Solutions and distributor Neat Wines (and formerly of Restaurant August), John Mitchell of the Windsor Court Hotel and Kimi Kiviranna of Swirl.

Juicing for a cause

This is the time of year in south Louisiana when people with even one or two citrus trees start wondering just what they’ll do with the prodigious crop. Plenty of high-proof ideas will be on display Wednesday, Jan. 28, at a unique cocktail event called Citrus Celebration, where a mix of local bartenders, amateur enthusiasts and liquor brand representatives will prepare drinks using an array of local citrus.

The event, now in its second year, is a fundraiser for the nonprofit New Orleans Fruit Tree Project, which harvests excess fruit from residential trees around the city and distributes the haul to hunger relief efforts and other community groups.

The Citrus Celebration is from 6-9 p.m. at Propeller, 4035 Washington Ave., and the $20 admission includes sample pours of each drink. Wine and beer is available to purchase, and the food truck La Cocinita will serve its Latin American street food. Get details and advance tickets at

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.