Evans is director of marketing and communications at the Washington Wine Academy. In college, he became interested in the wine industry because of its combination of art, science and culture.

What does the Washington Wine Academy offer?

We specialize in higher education of wine and certification. We offer classes in making wine and grape growing. We also have a lot of entry-level classes where we teach people how to taste. Right now we're trying to work a lot with Virginia wineries because they are making leaps and bounds with quality and quantity.

How should wine newbies get started?

The best way is to go to a wine bar. D.C. has a lot where you can order wines by the half-glass for tasting. You should write down what you like and don't like of each wine you taste. The fundamental is to have a basic grip on what you like.

What do you recommend for holiday meal wine pairings?

I definitely think sauvignon blanc to start because it's crisp and dry. If you're looking for a heavier white wine, then you should get a chardonnay that is unoaked. For red wine, people always like pinot noir -- it's the red wine for white wine drinkers. It's also not too heavy for chicken or turkey. If you're making a steak or roast with more body, merlot can be good with that. Port is delicious this time a year with cheese or a chocolate dessert.

Why do you think wine appreciation is valuable for drinkers?

I think learning about what you drink makes your everyday experience better -- whether it's drinking with friends or having a glass with your meal. You are much more aware of your personal taste preferences when you know what you're drinking.

What's your favorite wine?

Right now I think sparkling wine is fun and festive. You also can't go wrong with the Oregon pinots.

Kristen Byrne