Your winemonkey has to admit a bit of fondess for the quasi-industry event known as the pre-sale. I say "quasi" because this event is in fact open to any and all that are interested in attending. And I say "industry" because they are normally attended by the same insider crews and the events themselves are not well published.
The pre-sale, for those that do not know, is a wine tasting extravaganza held a couple of days before an auction. Sotheby's and Christie's are the leaders of this pack in New York city, but they can be found in almost every major city (Chicago has Hart Davis).
Why I enjoy them so much is that for the outrageuously low entrance fee of $75 (I can hear some groans already, but wait), you can quaff down tons of stuff you would most likely be unable to get your hands on. Now obviously this is meant to spurn your interest in purchasing the lots at auction and certainly you may get caught up in a wine enough to bid on it at the auction, but far and away the beauty of these events are the wines being poured and relative calm in which you can enjoy them.
One word of warning, they are unusually short tastings lasting only one hour, but what an hour it will be. Frankly, I would think that with a little planning on your part a pre-sale could be one of the best dates you could take your wine smitten significant other on.
As an example of their wine hedonism and the fun you can have (and by fun I mean wine), I will offer up a recent event your winemonkey attended:
1978 Chateau Margaux
1981 Chateau Ausone
1982 Vieux Chateau Certan
1982 Chateau Latour a Pomerol
1982 & 1995 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
1985 Chateau Lynch Bages
1990 Chateau Angelus
1996 Chateau Leoville Las Cases
1997 Frescobaldi Castelogioconda Brunello di Montalcino
1979 BV Georges de Latour Private Resource (killer juice)
1987 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (you'd be surpised how good it really is)
1993 Heitz Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
1996 Dalla Valle Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
2002 Harlan Estate "The Maiden"
2002 Noon Estate Shiraz Reserve
and a couple I can't remember.
So the next time you want to wow your boyfirend, girlfriend, SO or spouse (and look like a wine insider to boot) just check the auction catalogs or give the the auction house a ring an go get yourself a unique wine night out.