Tasting tips for large wine events

Not long ago I attended a tasting where there were over 200 wines in the event. As I walked around the tasting I saw many folks nodding their head over this wine or that wine and I wondered how these many wines could be evaluated correctly in a three hour setting.

After only ten or so wines, I find myself sitting down or visiting with other wine folks and letting the tasting go on without me. Long ago I realized that I really did not have the constitution to blast through more than ten wines in a sitting without finding some tricks to get me through a tasting of this size.

Let me give you a few of these tricks so that when you attend a large wine tasting you might find a way around the maze;


1"" Be Choosy. I remember at a Jefferson Public Radio tasting a few years back looking around and seeing folks lined up at various tables while other tables simply were not being attended at all. This made my choice easy, choosing the least path of resistance. I made it through eight tables with no hassle and left the tasting satisfied. There are gems at every table in a wine tasting so if you are patient and look for an opening your stress level will drop and your happiness level will raise. There is nothing worse than elbowing one's way to a winery table. There are a lot of wines in the world and none of them are worth bruised ribs.


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Selective tasting. This is where we separate the wine professionals from the amateurs. Move around a wine tasting with purpose. Select what it is that you wish to focus on. These selections might be about certain varietals, vintage dates or specific wine regions that you like or want to explore. This limits the tasting in a very positive manner and allows you to have fun while sticking to a road map in a tangle of wine paths. This can also mean that you could choose a white wine or a red wine evening which would narrow your choice and give you a little more fun in the long run.


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Follow a winery or winemaker. I have done this for many years. There are certain wineries and winemakers that I like very much and I try to follow their progress (or less than progress) as the vintages unfold. Therefore, in a large tasting, I seek out the winemaker or winery I have liked and see what the new vintages might have to offer, as to what might be new, what kind of growing year was to be tasted and what changes in winemaking philosophy have occurred. I will try to find time to spend with the winemakers, when they have free time, and see what releases they might think are very good and taste the wine with them. I find this to be a more intimate way of tasting in a large setting than to run around and taste as much wine as I might in the three hour event.


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Eat something. Try to eat something before the tasting and/or during the tasting. Eating during a tasting will slow you down and let you look around the room to select and choose. One of the big problems with wine tastings is the sense of having to rush around the joint and think that you must taste every wine being offered. I sometimes hear folks saying that they want to get "their money's worth" at a tasting which, frankly, is pretty strange to hear. Take it easy, be selective and slow down.


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Use your nose! Don't taste anything unless your nose agrees with you. Just like food appreciation, let the nose do the walking. The less you put in your mouth the less fatigue you will have. Be selective enough to let things be filtered through the sense of smell before anything touches your lips. You will go a lot further and enjoy yourself more if you use the old snout to decide what is worth putting in your mouth.

There you have it! See you next week!

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