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Grape Expectorations 

There's no time like the present to get your wine-tasting fix.

Drivers might be skittering across Northeast Ohio's icy roads these days, but serious wine lovers are making a beeline to Lockkeepers (8001 Rockside Road, Valley View; 216-524-9404) to take part in the region's only wine school. While the ambitious new program of classes, seminars, and tutored tastings was jolted just after New Year's by the death of the restaurant's master sommelier, John Unger, staffers have bounced back with an ever-expanding curriculum. Among the newest offerings is The Wines of France (March 10, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $60), a behind-the-label look at the great wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Côtes du Rhône, and the Loire Valley. Like the school's other friendly but content-laden classes, this one will include a little bit of lecture, a little bit of text review, and a whole lotta tasting, led by world-class experts.

The current staff roster includes master sommelier Larry O'Brien, who moved here from Florida in mid-January to pick up the reins at Lockkeepers; master sommelier Matt Citriglia, who is the state's only other M.S. and is based in Columbus; and Marianne Frantz, Lockkeepers' director of special events and a student at the International Wine Center in N.Y.C. ("Master Sommelier" is a designation reserved for wine experts who have passed a series of rigorous exams before the Court of Master Sommeliers.) Look for formal class catalogs to debut as the school continues to grow.

Food-and-wine fans will want to catch Citriglia and O'Brien on Friday, February 21, when the dynamic duo heads up a gastronomic tour de force: a five-course wine dinner pairing some of the world's most romantic red wines with special dishes created by executive chef Morgen Jacobson. Cost is $85/person. For reservations, call 216-524-9404.

It's all good . . . Of course, some people would rather drink wine than obsess about it. If that describes you, check out wine guru Todd Thompson's informative but definitely laid-back wine classes at The Harp (4408 Detroit Avenue; 216-939-0200). Upcoming topics include value-priced wines (February 10) and a classic food-and-wine pairing (February 11); each class begins at 7 p.m. and costs $35. Call 216-939-0200 to register.

The peripatetic Thompson also will be hosting a wine-and-art fund-raiser at the Akron Art Museum (330-376-9186) on March 6 and a wine-tasting to raise money for the Ukrainian Orthodox League on February 22. That event will be held at St. Vladimir's Grand Hall in Parma; call 440-843-1319 for ticket information.

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