Wine tasting events are all the rage these days. They are held as everything from home parties to mixers to fund raising events. These events are almost always a lot of fun, and are typically much less pretentious than many people imagine. However, if they aren’t something that you attend very often they can be a little intimidating.
It can seem that everyone present knows more than you about wine and it is easy to imagine that you might make a mistake that causes everyone to stare at you in disbelief. Neither could be farther from the truth. You can bet that most of the people there are a mix of folks possibly ranging from complete novices to serious wine drinker, and you probably fit in quite comfortably somewhere on the scale. Plus what horrible mistake could you possibly make? Swirling the wine the wrong direction? That won’t happen (there is no wrong direction, by the way).
Even so, there are a few things that can make attending a wine tasting event more relaxing and enjoyable.
First, and in my opinion, most importantly, unless you are going to a wine dinner, eat before you get to the event. Trusting that the tidbits that are typically served at wine events will be sufficient to slow down the absorption of alcohol is a good way to quickly find yourself a lot drunker than you had intended. The food provided is usually just a morsel intended to show off the pairing capabilities of the wine. Try to eat something with a relatively high fat content, but that isn’t heavily seasoned. You really don’t want your wine having to battle Taco Bell from earlier.
Another important thing to remember is to try and avoid wearing perfume, cologne, or use heavily scented soaps or lotions. Not only will you infringe on the enjoyment of those around you, the scent could be adding or masking aromas in the wine without you even being aware of it.
One of the easiest ways to look like you are at ease is to properly hold your glass. Just remember to hold it by the stem and and not cup it by the bowl. There are more pretentious ways of holding the glass, but we can save them for occasions when you want the pourer at a tasting room to think he better break out the good stuff. Use the stem and you will look like a pro.
Swirling the wine is another possible stumbling block. If you aren’t comfortable swirling it in the air by the stem, simply find a flat surface and swirl while keeping the glass on the table. Practice before you go, if it worries you.
Another good tip is to wear dark clothes. All that swirling, slurping and sipping invariably leads to a little spill now and then. Even the most practiced wino inadvertently lets a little drop fall when tasting, or even worse (and probably more common) accidentally snorts a little up their nose when sniffing. It is much easier to laugh off such occurrences when there aren’t red drops staining your favorite white shirt.
Most importantly, just have fun. Wine events are not rocket science, and being an expert is not required at all. Just taste, enjoy and mingle. It is amazing how friendly folks get about 30 minutes after one of these things get started.