Top Seven Tips to Enjoy a Wine Event
Wine events are a great way to explore new wine types and new wineries. There are dozens (hundreds?) of wine events every year in California. Some are grand with 100+ wineries and restaurants present, live music, culinary demonstrations, auctions and seminars. Others are smaller and more intimate with opportunities to chat one-on-one with winemakers and chefs.
Having attended dozens of these events I have experienced plenty from both sides of the pouring table and have some suggestions for folks to get the most out of a wine event. Here are my top seven tips.
1. Choose the right event. Since events come in all sizes, be sure the one you pick fits what you are looking for. There are tastings at the Mason Center in San Francisco with over 10,000 people and hundreds of wineries. These are incredible affairs but may not be for everybody. Others, of course are smaller put on by a local restaurant or wine shop. Further examples are regional wine events presented by the local winery association, a city or a non-profit. I always learn more at smaller events and there is generally better food.
2. Arrive Early. My experience is to get to the event early. You’ll get better parking and a chance to connect with the wine makers and chefs before the crowd arrives. Early bird VIP passes are great and are generally worth the extra dollars.
3. Plan your tasting. Read up ahead of the event to learn which wineries or restaurants will be attending and what they may be pouring. Seek out the must-taste booths first.
4. Don’t hog the tasting counter. If the booth you are visiting is busy, say hello, grab your pour, ask a question and then move back so others can get a chance to taste. The wineries are there to share their wine and find new customers. Let them connect with people.
5. Sip and spit. Yes we all like to enjoy our wine but think of how many more wines you will be able to taste and discover if you use the dump bucket or cup to deposit your excess wine. Too much wine can ruin your palate.
6. Order wine or join the club. Wineries donate their time and wine to promote their business. Many events allow wineries to take orders on the spot for wine and for joining their wine club. They can arrange pickups and shipping. Take advantage of this opportunity. There may be special incentives only available during the event.
7. Food & water are your friends. Be sure to drink plenty of water and enjoy the food as much as the wine. No one enjoys an over-imbiber. Just because you have a designated driver doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to embarrass yourself.