Last night I went to a wine tasting/charity event sponsored by a local wine shop. I’ve been to a few of these things over the years and honestly I have mixed feelings about them. Most of the time I’m a little suspicious about the wine the salespeople bring. Usually it seems like wine they need to move mixed in with some higher end wines that make you feel like you’re getting in on special deal on the tasting.
They’re also usually like those “lady parties” like Mary Kay, or those candles where there’s an expectation that you’re going to buy something. At those I often end up scanning the catalog and to find the cheapest thing I can buy and make a hasty retreat, but at a wine event I’m a pretty good ferreter and can usually find something to buy that I actually like. And dang it, ferreting out wine is fun.
If you choose carefully wine tastings can be kind of great. It really depends on the venue. If it’s your small local wine shop organizing it, the odds are better that they will pick good wine salespeople to show their wares. Now the salespeople are well, salespeople. They remind me of drug reps that I worked with back in the day at the American Cancer Society. Some are better than others, but most are solid informational resources to learn more about their wine. Word of advice to the wine reps, you don’t want to be a little douchy. I got one of those last night and Dude, you act like a jerk and I’m not going to buy any of your wine. If you’re very particular about your wine, tell them what you like even if you don’t see those wine there, they’ll help you navigate to what you might like. If you’re like me and you like a lot of different wines just say that and you’ll get to taste everything. I said that to one rep last night and her eyes lit up and said, “oh, we’re going to have some fun” and she proceeded to give me the intel on all her wine. I did buy one of hers. A memorable wine seller sold me a bottle by calling it a “porch pounder” and dishing about what a deal it was. It wasn’t a great wine, but could I picture myself on my patio drinking it icy cold on a hot summer night? You better believe it. Also, wine sellers take note, don’t be precious about your wine, pick favorites. No, all your wine isn’t great, we all preferences, so when I ask you what you crack open after a long day, just tell me.
One of my favorite things about a tasting is you can try varietals that you’ve never had without the risk of buying a whole bottle of it at the store. It’s really exciting to learn about an unusual grape or region that you’ve never tried. It’s also cool to serve that bottle to friends or bring it to a party when everyone else is bringing another oaky Chardonnay or tired old Cabby Sauv. If you try something new and don’t like it, just pour it out.
At a tasting you don’t want to get sloppy. Well, maybe you do, but if you want to remember anything about what you’re tasting you can’t drink every pour, especially at a large event. And they add up, faster than you’d think. My rule is if I love it I’ll drink it, if not I take a sip and pour it out. That’s what the buckets are for, so use them. And heck if you want to get a little sloppy and have fun, go ahead it’s your party, but plan ahead who’s driving home.
Finally if you really want to make my day, have the wine right there so I can leave with it in hand and give me a discount. Last night discounts started at 6 bottles, there weren’t 6 that I liked enough to buy, so I picked my two favorites, something new and of course Pinot Noir. I had two other wines I would have bought if I’d gotten at little off all of them, so that’s a small sale loss.
Oh, the wine above is a lovely little Malbec that I drank later, but did not come from the tasting. They didn’t have it right there, you got to pre-order it, so then I can’t share it here. It’s available at Binny’s if you have one.
edited-I just noticed this is my 100th blog post. Compared to some, that’s a drop in the blogging ocean, but for me it feels milestoney. If you’re new, take a peek back at the archives and see what you’ve been missing. I hope you like what you see and come back.