Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Charity Wine Tastings: A Five-Point Strategy

There are seemingly thousands of charity wine events around the country every year. I know this because I seem to be invited to pour our winery’s new releases at just about all of them. And while I do enjoy offering our wines and hearing everyone’s thoughts on the flavors and style of winemaking, I am often struck at just how unprepared the attendees are for an evening of tasting that’s both meaningful and fun.

So here’s a strategic approach if you’re planning on attending a charity wine tasting in your area:

1. Let the initial crowd blow by you while you take 3 minutes to actually look at the tasting area map. You’ll know where your targeted tasting spots are, and will be rewarded later for having a solid plan in place. If you don’t know anything about wines yet and this is your first tasting, skip this step, since you don’t know what you’re looking for anyway.

2. Start with lighter white wines and move to bigger reds during the tasting. You may have to double back through the room … no big deal.

3. Sometimes folks tasting with me think the protocol is to rinse their glass with water between every wine. STOP. It’s really only necessary when switching between red and white wines or going from a very thick, aromatic, viscous wine (like an Oloroso Sherry) to a lighter wine. Remember, the dump bucket at each table is your friend … empty your glass well between tastings … and no, we aren’t offended if you don’t finish what we just poured for you.

4. Take a break and eat something from the tasty spread most charity wine events put out. Nothing is more annoying or dangerous than someone who comes to a tasting, eats nothing, pours out nothing, drinks everything, and then comes to my table to tell me their fascinating tale of how they once met Yul Brynner aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean and all he did was play the violin and apply sunscreen … I’ve got wine to pour my friend, and if I think you’ve had too much, you’re not getting a taste at my table.

5. Carry one of those spiffy digital recording devices; even my cell phone has one built in. I’ve found it’s much easier to speak my thoughts about a wine than it is to write them down in a large tasting environment. Geeky? Perhaps, but it works for me and later I can remember the wines that I really enjoyed without carrying around a notepad and pencil.

1 comment:

  1. Although I've made it a lifetime practice to mock and denigrate Keith, I must say, this list hits it on the head. Every Yul Brenner fan should print these five points out and put them in their wallet.

    And, by the way, wanna' look like a pro? after you look at the color, smell the wine, sip it, swirl it around in your mouth... SPIT IT OUT!

    You can taste the first 30-40 samples this way and still navigate the room. Just swallow the ones you really love or save the actual drinking until the latter part of the tasting.