If you’re like me, you love to go wine tasting events and you love to watch tennis. I’ve come to realize there are a lot of similarities between the two. Every large city has at least one Grand Slam Wine Tasting Event at least once a year. Usually in the summer. And, most likely, there are a lot of little smaller tastings going on around you. You’ll meet and greet the usual heavy hitters at the Grand Slams. The smaller events are where you’ll meet and greet new players and you may become a fan of one, two or three.
One of my favorite websites for searching out wine tasting events near my home is called “The Juice” offered through the website “Wine and Food Events”. Once you sign up, you’ll get a newsletter titled “The Juice” in your e-mail every few weeks. The newsletter lists wine events near you. You’ll also get an informational page about wine and related items. It’s free to sign up. Of course you can upgrade but I haven’t done this and thus can’t tell you how much better that would be.
Another way I’ve found small wine tasting offerings is by checking with the local wine shops and bars. There are at least two wine shops in Burlington, Vermont that offer weekly tastings. Burlington Wine Shop and Dedalus Wine are two that I love to visit when I’m in that city. I also check the Chamber of Commerce for cities and towns that I know I will be visiting for wine events that may be on their calendar.
Once you’ve found a tasting event, there are several key factors to take into consideration to make it a successful event. My number one rule; never purchase more than one bottle of a wine which you find at a tasting. Obviously this applies to the first purchase. When you’re at a tasting, it is possible that your notion of a fabulous, marvelous, wonderful wine can be a bit skewed. Really. So, instead of running out and buying two or more bottles of this fabulous, marvelous, wonderful wine, only to find it is…well…not as tasty as you once thought, purchase one bottle. Try it when you have not been tasting other wines and see if it is still as good as it once was. Hopefully it will be excellent and then you can stock up!
Rule number two; take copious notes. Right. Who wants to do that? You do!! You will be rewarded for your efforts. If you’re at a small tasting, just jot down the names of the wine you think you love, some of the key reasons you think you love it and the price. If you live in a rural area as I do, it is helpful if you can get the name of the distributor. If you’re at a Grand Slam event, and they offer a program, circle or highlight the wine and write a note or two in the margin of the page.
Then, several days after the event, if you decide to purchase the wine, you’ll have the information necessary, and you can revisit your thoughts on that particular wine. I know I tend to get caught up in the moment of having a conversation with other wine drinkers and lose track of what my own thoughts are and can get swept up in someone else’s opinion.
Third Rule applies primarily to the reds. I always ask how long has the bottle been opened. Reds change personality every five minutes for the first hour after they have been opened which is why it is good to know how long the wine has been exposed to the air. Whites can change too, but they have a bigger change with the temperature of the wine.
So those are my rules that I try to adhere to when going to a wine tasting. If possible, I research the wines that will be offered. Other than that, just go to as many tastings as you can to broaden your horizons with the numerous grape varietals in this world. Explore what other countries have to offer. Find out what is growing and distilling near you!