By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 23, 2010 at 8:09 AM

The Capital Grille Milwaukee's Advanced Sommelier Toni Johnson is a long-standing friend of OnMilwaukee and she's shared her vast wine knowledge with our readers on numerous occasions.

So, when we heard she was doing a series of free wine classes beginning in January at the Capital Grille, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., we wanted to make sure you knew about them. Toni is a living, breathing, tasting encyclopedia of wine and her affection for the grape is contagious thanks to her outgoing personality.

So, who better to explain the finer points of wine tasting and wine varietals from across the globe?

"The exceptional wine served during our new wine classes will showcase The Capital Grille's award-winning wine program, which is routinely recognized by Wine Spectator," says Paul Hawkins, Managing Partner of The Capital Grille Milwaukee.

The Capital Grille Milwaukee has more than 5,000 bottles in its collection, says Hawkins.

"(We) also offer a Captain's List of 125 interesting and collector wines. We are pleased to share our knowledge of fine wines and pairings with the community."

Here is the schedule of the Saturday classes, which start at 3:30 p.m. and last about 75 minutes each.

Jan. 22 -- Wine 101 and the secrets of blind tasting: The wines tasted will be six different varietals and the discussion will be about the wines and where they are made.

Feb. 19 -- Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine comes from Bordeaux, Italy, California and Washington. Johnson will discuss this great steak wine and guests will sample a wine from each region.

March 19 -- Pinot Noir: From Burgundy to New Zealand this elegant wine can have many faces. Johnson will discuss and taste six differing styles from around the world.

Again, there is no cost to attend the classes, but space is limited to 30 per class, so please make a reservation in advance by calling (414) 223-0600.

And tell Toni we said "Cin cin."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.