When I started this wine journey over 20 years ago, the first large events I attended were held at The Wine House in West Los Angeles. (I attended small classes too and I’m pleased to see that they still offer both.) Anyway, the Cabernet Fest was one of my favorites. I believe we had an allotment of 20 tickets for 20 tastes, and a 90 minute or 2 hour window to use them. They ran two tastings so if you came to the first, which was our preference, nothing would have run out.
Every time, and it never failed, I was overly concerned that 20 tastes would not be enough. And every time I ended up leaving and handing over my unused tickets to someone else in the second tasting group that was clamoring, like I had been, to get in.
Fast forward a decade or more and when I chose to write about wine I learned more about using pour out buckets and not finishing what was poured in my glass. I’m no longer out for the buzz, I’m looking for differences in flavor and aroma. And while you may not be a wine writer, or have an interest in tasting this way, the event can be much more enjoyable if you remember a few things.
So whether or not you’ve attended wine events before, here are some tips to get the most pleasure, and keep a check on your inebriation, while attending a large wine tasting:
Do not complain to the winemaker, winery representative or volunteer that your pour was short. Try the wine, thank them and move on. There will be plenty more. They may not have enough or they are controlling their pours due to the cost or availability of the wine.
Don’t carry a large purse, wear high heels, douse yourself in perfume or after shave. The first two are for comfort reasons as you will be standing the entire time. The last is so that the aromas of the wine can be fully experienced. I like to wear something with pockets to stow business cards of wineries I want to remember.
It will be difficult to manage cutlery so if food is offered select finger foods so that you can get back to wine tasting – without dropping your glass or plate! (If seating is offered, go for it, it’s not common in large walk-around tastings.) And don’t skip the food that is offered, it will help absorb some of the alcohol.
Don’t hang at a table too long. If there is a line behind you try to be cognizant of it. You can always return.
Use the pour out bucket, for wine you like and wine that you don’t like. You will, and I guarantee it, enjoy your wine all throughout the tasting if you don’t exhaust your palate too early, or get drunk. Promise.
Have a designated driver, call Uber, arrange for a pickup…or do what I do if in a pinch: stop drinking the last hour or more of the tasting, drink water, sit down, borrow a pal’s breathalyzer, then safely drive yourself home.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com