I think this is important enough to be the first post.
There are at least three places in Durham to get free alcohol and, at two of them, learn something about it at the same time.
Every Friday from 5 – 8 pm Parker and Otis, near Brightleaf, has a beer tasting. The in-store beer guy, or sometimes a rep from the featured brewery, is around to tell you about the beer, if you care.
Every Saturday, there is a wine tasting at 12 – 3 pm at Parker and Otis. At the same time (unfortunately) there is also a tasting at Wine Authorities, at the intersection of University and 15-501. Wine Authorities also has a machine that allows you to serve yourself wine on tap any time by swiping a wine debit card. It seems dangerous,* and is called an Enomatic.
Less interesting but also free (with a purchase) are the unlimited mimosas at Dale’s (the Indian place on Ninth Street) that come with the Sunday brunch buffet.
So, you’re pretty much set for the weekend, if you’re ok with starting early.
*UPDATE: When I say dangerous, I mean in a very good way.