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How not to host a wine tasting.

(post, John Dryzga)


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I attended a wine tasting yesterday that certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.  Luckily a spit bucket was near by.

My alma mater was having their annual alumni weekend, so I made the trek over to campus.  More like a 5 block walk, but you get the picture.  One of the featured events was  a wine tasting, so I paid my $10 and ambled in.  I found a spot at one of the tables, made my introductions to my neighbors and waited for the juice to be poured.  The theme of the tasting was to try get people to expand their wine worlds outside of the usual chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sphere.  I am all for people moving outside of their comfort zones of taste, so I was expecting a fun few hours.  Boy was I wrong.  The host made a number of crucial errors bringing down everyone’s enjoyment.

Mistake 1:  Gauging peoples interest in wine by how many bottles of wine they have a home.  The host asked people how into wine they are.  The basis for his categories was how many wines they have stored in their homes.  I’m pretty sure he only asked this question so he could brag about how many wines he has at home.

Mistake 2:  Making a sales pitch.  Before even one drop of wine was poured, he was going on about the store he bought the wine at and how the wines we were to be tasting were available for purchase.  Hey, this is an alumni weekend event, not some commercial wine tasting.  Leave your profit motives behind next year please.

Mistake 3: Not telling the stories of the wines.  One of the most interesting aspects of wine is how it tells a tale of where its from.  A Chablis from France speaks a completely different dialect of Chardonnay then a wine from Napa Valley.  While stating the grape variety and where the wine was made is a start, some information about the actual vineyard and a description of the area the grapes where grown in would have made this tasting a lot more fun.  Since many of these grape varieties are uncommon to non-wine geeks, a more detailed description of the grape would have added a lot to the experience.

Mistake 4: Sloppy wine pouring.  There was just about the same amount of wine on the table as their was in the glasses.  Of course an occasional spill will happen, but come on now.  Many people were upset that their tasting sheets were ruined by having red wine spilled all over them.

Mistake 5: It just wasn’t fun.  This should have been a very light hearted event then got a few important lessons in.  It ended up being a dull event leaving most attendees unexcited.  The event had the pallor of a time share sales pitch.  

So, grab a bottle of wine, grab a loved one, and share a glass, a laugh, and a kiss.  And be wary of alumni weekend wine tastings.