One of the things that make Pearson’s Wine and Liquor Annex (2436 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6666; pearsonswine.com) such a pleasure is the table in the back with a dozen open bottles for sampling. We like it best when Larry Gilden—he of the tousled white hair and booming nasal accent—is pouring. Make that pouring and discoursing. Pearson’s staffers have long been among the country’s best, and Gilden carries on the tradition. He doesn’t just sell you a wine; he arms you with knowledge. He also fills you with wonder for the mystery and complexity of wine—without the jargon.