Posts Tagged ‘beer dinners’
March 10th, 2013 • No Comments
DCBrau Needs More Beer Dinners..
Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle” Blog:
Did Somebody Say Beer Dinner?
I have great respect for DC Brau. The founders are hard working and passionate men. I remember after they first opened, I tried to find The Public Ale. It was amazing having that first beer. I had a friend at the time who had just moved to San Fransisco and took photos of DC Brau. He eventually made his way back home and loves DC Brau.
This past Thursday DC Brau held a beer dinner at 1905. The event was featured on TasteDC’s calendar (4-Course DC Brau Beer Dinner )among other great sites. Before the dinner, they held a release happy hour for their Saint Joseph’s Tripel. The beer is named in honor of Joey Belcher. They also donated a portion of the proceeds of the happy hour as well as remembered him fondly during the dinner.
I missed the happy hour as I was catching up with a friend at Vinoteca. It’s another great spot in the area that never gets too packed for weekday happy hour and offers several wines by the glass for $5.
I showed up shortly before the start of dinner. I was greeted by the wonderful staff of 1905 including one of my favorite bartenders, Lyn. She’s a sassy lady with amazing taste in beer and food. I also was lucky enough to meet one of the DC Beers crew, John Fleury.
Let’s get started with this tasty dinner. Nom nom nom.
DC Brau Citizen, Horseradish, Lemon Juice, Pickled Okra
The amuse bouche featured the DC Brau Citizen as an oyster shooter. I am not the biggest fan usually of oysters, but the spice and acid notes were perfect. The DC Brau Citizen had a balancing effect.
House-Smoked Pork Belly
Brined in DC Brau Penn Quarter Porter, Maple Glaze, Bacon Collards, Littlenecks
Paired with Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)
My preferred beers are stouts or porters. I love the Penn Quarter Porter. The pork belly was succulent. It was so creamy along with the beer it came out very luxurious. The collard greens with bacon added an element of salt.
There were amazing chocolate notes in the porter with some smoke towards the finish.
Lemon-Pepper Creme, Deviled Crawfish, Pickled Fennel
Paired with Saint Joseph’s Tripel (10% ABV)
This was yet another amazing dish. The tripel made delicious sense with the salmon. As Jeff presented the dish, he spoke of having beer compliment or contradict your food. It’s a great aspect of dining with beer.
The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was incredibly moist and sort of fell apart in my mouth. The deviled crawfish and pickled fennel added a nice sourness that was a palate cleanser.
The tripel was a great homage to the Belgian tripel. It wasn’t as overpowering as I find Belgian tripels (possibly food would help). It had lovely citrus notes, some toast and mild sweetness.
Crisp-Skin Duck Breast
Housemade Kraut, Sorghum Mustard, Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out Beer Salt
Paired with Barrel-Aged Ghoul’s Night Out (11% ABV)
Aged in Catoctin Creek Grape Brandy Barrels
Next we moved onto the duck, which to quote my man friend was “quacktastic”. The sorghum mustard added spicy notes combined with the barrel aged ghoul’s night our beer salt and beer itself. The beer had amazing caramel notes that brought out additional flavor in the duck.
Even though I prefer heavier beers, this may have been my favorite. It reminded me somewhat of a doppelbock with caramel flavors and a lovely smoothness.
We also had the opportunity to sample the Catoctin Creek Brandy to have a better understanding of how the beer was aged. This may be my new favorite brandy. It was very smooth with great vanilla notes and hints of molasses.
“Coffee & Doughnuts”
Paired with Barrel-Aged Penn Quarter Porter (5.5% ABV)
Obviously, I love donuts. I went to the donut party. One can never have enough donuts. As we finished our dinner, we were treated to donuts with light powdered sugar, chocolate ganche sauce, Barrel Aged Penn Quarter Porter and a coffee styled chaser.
The donuts were light, fluffy and warm. That’s a key to donuts is conning the mouth into thinking they are eating something that hasn’t been fried in grease. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
The barrel aging added more vanilla and toasty notes with hints of whiskey to the beer. It rounded the finish.
This was an amazing dinner with great people both attending and working the event. I always love my visits to 1905 and hope to go back soon.
Oh and DC Brau! I’m calling you out. Have more beer dinners!!
August 6th, 2012 • No Comments
WTOP Beer of the Week: 3 Stars Brewery Pandemic Porter
w/Greg Engert, Beer Sommelier of Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Last year in 2011, two new breweries opened up in Washington, D.C. – this after almost 60 years without a brewery to call our own. Yes, we have Brew Pubs like Capitol City Brewpub, District Chophouse, and Gordon Biersch, but a true brewery produces beer in quantity for off-premise consumption. With the openings of DCBrau on April 15th, 2011 (great article by Tammy Tuck/Lagerheads) and Chocolate City Beer on August 18th, 2011, the DC Beer Scene had something to Celebrate – Local Pride! You will hear over and over again if you live in the DC area that there are few natives, almost everyone who lives here comes for a job/career and the assumption is they may not be here for much longer than a few years. The sign of a good economy is a mobile economy – this is true, but employees are human and they need to identify with something. This is where the locavore movement came to be: the concept that by eating local, and supporting local businesses, you help the local economy and develop a sense of community pride. DC’s local breweries tapped into this need for local identity – just consider their company names and the names of their beers, for example, DC Brau’s The Corruption and The Citizen.
I also want to mention that DC doesn’t always mean “District of Columbia” to us locals – NoVa (Northern Virginia) and Montgomery County (sometimes Prince George’s County too!) in Maryland all make up our local craft beer market – Baltimore is a whole different story. Port City Brewery opened up in 2011 with a bang and from a slightly different angle – yes, Alexandria, VA needed a Brewery (or 2..) but the background of Port City’s founder is really the story of the evolution of a wine professional into a craft beer brewer. During my days in the wine business, I often saw Bill Butcher, Port City’s Founder, at Mondavi tastings promoting the wine lifestyle. And that’s what wine marketing is really about – lifestyle. People who purchase wine tend to have a higher income (or they did a decade ago), are well educated, and pretty much define the commonly used term today “aspirational” – they have money, but dream of a higher status, and Mondavi/wine perfectly fit into this cozy scenario. But beer is different, even craft beer. What Bill did is create a local brand that gives and identity to Northern Virginia that it needed – a sense of place. SEE LIST OF PAID EVENTS BELOW
Quick Info Resources:
Some events that feature local breweries or paid events to plan ahead for include:
3rd Annual DC Beer Week Craft Beer & Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey, August 12th (Sunday) boards the Odyssey at 5 pm, sets sail 6-9 pm
Enjoy unlimited tastings of more than 40 craft beers from across the US and around the world Included in the cost of admission is a full dinner buffet, DJ, dancing and a 3-hour cruise along the Potomac as we pass the majestic skyline of the nation’s capital. Cost is $125, tickets will not be available at the door, but can be purchased here.
-Italian Craft Beer Tasting
August 12th (Sunday) 2:30-4:30pm
Maple, 3418 11th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Maple is hosting an afternoon tasting of craft brews from Italy. The country’s vibrant beer scene has rapidly expanded in recent years,
but the beers are not yet widely available in the U.S. Join us to sample six Italian beers and learn about the breweries behind them.
Antipasti will be served. Beer List
Tickets Are $40/per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity
Please reserve your spot by calling us at 202-588-7442.
–Meridian Pint: Cheese and Oxbow Beer – August 13th (Monday) 6:30pm
Meridian Pint – 3400 11th Street NW
Join Tim Adams, co-founder and head brewer of Oxbow Brewing Company, and Tim Prendergast, Assistant Beer Director at the Meridian Pint and a Certified Cicerone®, for a casual afternoon exploration of Oxbow beers and American artisanal cheese. Through five pairings, you will see the amazing affinity that Oxbow’s farmhouse beers and artisanal cheese have for one another. $45 includes tax and gratuity. Buy your tickets here http://goo.gl/STeiK. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets for Smoke & Barrel’s “Beer Meat Whiskey: Utah Edition” event http://goo.gl/Wy47z.
-5-Course Ommegash it’s Allagang Beer Dinner, August 14 at 7 p.m.
Granville Moore’s, 1238 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002Portland, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Co. and Cooperstown, N.Y.’s Brewery Ommegang provide the beer for this dinner with food pairings by Granville Moore’s Chef Teddy Folkman and his culinary team. Complete Menu Tickets Are $65/per person, Call For Menu and Reservations (202) 399-2546
– SOLD OUT-DC Brau’s Genuine 1st Annual Official DC Beer Week Crab Festival Monumental Extravaganza, August 15th (Wednesday) 5 – 10 pm
Quarterdeck Restaurant, 1200 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209
SOLD OUT-Please help DC BRAU celebrate indigenous beer and these indigenous mid-Atlantic delicacies – All you can eat crabs and DC Brau Discount Pitchers of Beer. Tickets Are $35/per person, Purchase Tickets Online
–Smoke and Barrel: Beer, Meat, and Whiskey: Utah Edition – August 15th (Wednesday) 7pm
Join Michael Malachowski, National Sales Manager of Epic Brewing, and Troy Karnes, Passionate Whiskey Missionary from High West Distillery, for an hour of exploration into pairing meat with Utah beer and whiskey. Executive Chef and pitmaster Logan McGear will offer three distinct meat plates each paired with an Epic brew and a High West concoction.
$45 includes tax and gratuity. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets to Meridian Pint’s Cheese & Oxbow Beer event. Details at http://goo.gl/58rNY. Tickets and menu available here:
–Mad Fox Brewing Company: Cask Beer Dinner August 15th (Wednesday)
Mad Fox Brewing Company – 444 West Broad Street – Falls Church
Five course beer dinner featuring Mad Fox’s cask beers. $75/person.
-Hopfenstark Guided Beer Tasting, Thursday, August 16, Georgetown, 7pm
Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown), 3282 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007
Featuring a guided tasting of 10 Hopfenstark beers by brewmaster Frederick Cormier
$35 for 10 three ounce pours & your choice of 1 twelve ounce pour paired with its own Special Pizza
Call 202-337-1245 for Reservations (Required)
Complete Menu of Beers
–District Chophouse: 2nd Annual Cask Night – August 16th (Thursday) 6pm
District Chophouse – 509 7th Street NW , Washington, D.c.
Featuring Handcrafted Casks from over 15 Local Area Breweries, including DC Brewers Beer Week Collaboration Beer: Solidarity Saison, Bluejacket, DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, District Chophouse, and many more! $50 ticket includes: unlimited beer sampling, light Chophouse fare, tasting glass, raffle prizes. Reserve tickets by calling 202-347-1922
–Smoke and Barrel: Crab Feast with Evolution and 3 Stars Brewing Companies, August 17th (Friday)
Smoke and Barrel – 2471 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Tom Knorr, founder of Evolution Craft Brewing, is driving down bushels of Maryland Blue Crabs straight from the shore. Join him and the guys from 3 Stars Brewing for an all-you-can-eat crab feast. $45 covers tax and gratuity, as well bottomless Evolution and 3 Stars drafts from 6-8PM! Tickets available here: http://goo.gl/Tvj7i
–Bier Baron: Midsummer Barleywine Festival , August 17th (Friday) 7pm
Bier Baron – 1523 22nd Street NW , Washington, D.C.
The Bier Baron will be releasing its Cellar Reserve List—featuring its extensive collection of rare and vintage beers—and hosting a vertical tasting of four select vintages of Anchor Old Foghorn. Tickets can be purchased at BierBaronDC.com ($40 online/$50 at the door). Ticket includes entry to the event, a vertical tasting of Old Foghorn starting with an entire bottle of vintage 1991, and 20% off everything on the Cellar List and vintage barley wines on draft. Purchase Tickets Online (Paypal)
More to Come!
January 31st, 2012 • No Comments
(Note: Updated on February 9th (Thursday) 2012 – will be updated as events unfold or get Sold Out..)
I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but like Halloween, it’s a celebration/festivity that has taken on a life of it’s own. And 2012 is no exception, there are just a plethora of Valentine’s tastings for both the chocolate and non-chocolate lover – I’m not even sure if the latter exists! Some quick thoughts on Valentine’s and tastings: if you’re a restaurant or event provider who wishes to really draw people in this time of year, any theme with chocolate, sparkling wine (especially Champagne) or some over-the-top rich dish like braised meats seems to bring people in in droves – oh, and also any food/concept connected with Amore, for example oysters and fondue (both chocolate and cheese work). It’s also OK to add terms like “seduction”, “decadent”, “aphrodisiac” and even “libido” to your menu descriptions which breaks away from the everyday norm of exclusion of these concepts – Valentine’s gives you as the marketer the right to explore the racier side of life..and people will accept and forgive you for about a week! Of course, certain cultures are also associated with lasciviousness so French and Italian restaurants and themes have a distinct advantage. If you have a strong combination of all of these themes and concepts, you can also expect a marriage proposal or two to occur – and hopefully, not with your staff!
Oh, and to make all this information just a touch more confusing..Valentine’s Day is officially Tuesday, February 14th, but many events list their date on Saturday or Sunday as “official” Valentine’s Day events – it’s a celebration of love and romance, does it really matter what the official date is? I think not..
I will list the major tastings by date (Note: if you’re just looking for a listing of restaurants that have multi-course dinners especially for Valentine’s, here’s a pretty good list by Washingtonian):
Thursday, February 9th,
Sommelier Showdown (as part of the DC International Food and Wine Festival), 7:00pm-9:00pm
Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20004
Tickets are $150/per person and can be Purchased Online
See top DC Sommeliers flex their knowledge at the Washington DC International Wine & Food Festival’s inaugural Sommelier Showdown. Our experts will engage in a friendly tête-à-tête and compete in a race of the taste, using deductive tasting to identify wines with hidden labels.
To complement the wines presented, the Showdown will feature five of DCs most noted chefs who will be tasked with bringing food and wine together, including Chefs Todd Gray (Equinox), Xavier Deshayes (Ronald Reagan Building), and Jaime Montes de Oca (Zentan).
SOLD OUT-Savory Syrah – A Global Tour
Chain Bridge Cellars, 1351 Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA 22101
Wine experts all agree that Syrah is one of the “noble” varietals, capable of making some of the most complex, layered and age-worthy wines in the world. But the kinship between a $10 Aussie Shiraz and a $70 Hermitage is pretty hard to fathom! So take a worldwide tour of everything Syrah/Shiraz can be and see if you can find some common themes. We’ll taste bargains from Australia and the South of France; classic American, South African and Rhone wines; and a couple of “big guns” from the Barosa and Cote Rotie.
This class includes seven wines, Syrah-friendly snacks, and take-home descriptions of each wine and region covered.
To reserve a space, email [email protected] or call 703.356.6500
TasteDC Chocolate Making 101 at Wanders Chocolaterie
How to Blind Taste Wine
February 9th (Thursday) Session 1: 6 – 7:30 pm; and Session 2: 8 – 9:30 pm
Adour in The St. Regis, 923 16th and K Streets, N.W., Washington, DC 20006
Wine Director Brent Kroll will conduct a sensory analysis on how to quantify wine flavors and origin.
Tickets are $60/per person.
Call (202) 509-8000 to Make Reservations
December 25th, 2011 • No Comments
OK, it’s just a bunch of photos from past TasteDC events, but it kind of shows you where TasteDC comes from – it’s my imagination of how people really would like to eat and drink..a bit of a dream world, but food is so much more than nourishment..Just Enjoy!
Charlie Adler, Managing Editor
TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar
“Educate Your Palate”
December 25th, 2011 • No Comments
I spent over 15 years organizing and attending wine dinners at TasteDC – it is definitely my favorite part of being in a unique business! Weird as it may seem, a “wine dinner” is conceptually as confusing as a wine tasting to most people – it’s a very foreign concept to many Americans – literally! A wine dinner is in essence a multi-course dinner served with several different wines – this is the simple explanation. A GOOD/GREAT wine dinner is when the various elements come together in a wonderful symphony of an event: wine, food, timing, pairing, educational component (this usually means a speaker), and impeccable service. It sounds very snooty, but that’s primarily because it’s based on the fine dining traditions of the Old World – particularly France and Italy. So what IS a wine dinner?
“A Wine Dinner Is a Meal Divided by Courses”
Most wine dinners include a menu of dishes served in three or more courses. For example, when you go out to eat at a fine dining restaurant, the menu is often broken down into Appetizers, Main Dishes, and Desserts. A Wine Dinner is a smart way for a restaurant to showcase both great wine and delicious dishes that showcase their chef’s talents. And yes, there is a formula: according to the traditional European format for a dinner (actually, any serious meal!) is begin with the lightest dishes, move on to richer dishes and finish with dessert – and yes, often there is a cheese course before dessert. A very simple multi-course dinner (with or without wine, but in the European tradition, food is pretty much always served with wine) would begin with some hors d’oeuvres, a seafood or pasta dish, a light meat dish (chicken or pork), a rich meat dish (beef or lamb) and dessert. Each course would be served with a different wine in a wine dinner and possibly even more than one wine per course. This would be called a 4-course dinner because hors d’oeuvres are usually not considered a dish, so don’t count in the number.
“Each Dish Should Be Paired with the Appropriate Wines”
I’ve been to wine dinners where there is only one wine paired with each dish, and that can be very satisfying! But I’ve also been to wine dinners where there are two, three, even four wines paired per dish (that’s a single dish!) and those can be very fun – albeit confusing at times. I want to touch upon the concept of pairing: pairing wine and food means there’s a synergy of flavor that is 1 + 1 is GREATER than 2. There are some classic examples of pairings: Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese, Pinot Noir and salmon, and Cabernet Sauvignon and steak, etc. that work but I’ve had pairings that stretch the limits. The original old school formula for pairings was “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” but this is extremely outdated – creative chefs today don’t serve simply prepared dishes that are formulaic, they often prefer to add unique flavors and cooking techniques to their dishes that can be difficult to pair. To keep it simple (I wrote a whole chapter on pairing in “I Drink on the Job” entitled “A Meal Without Wine is Breakfast”). Just like with food, most wine dinners begin with lighter-style wines (like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling) and move to heavier-bodied wines later in the meal – this makes sense – you wouldn’t want a Big Cab with your shrimp dish/course at the beginning of the meal, that would be way too heavy early in the meal (and a poor pairing!). Also, later in the meal, your palate needs richer and bolder flavors or you won’t notice a dish, so big wines and red meat (or dishes that are braised/slow cooked to increase the rich flavors of a meal) make sense.
A quick note on pairing/wine dinners – most have a theme like “Italian Wines” or “California Boutique Wines” that create the expectation of a special celebration of a wine region or theme. This is important because a wine dinner is a “showcase” event – a chance for a wine maker to show his/her best efforts in the vineyard or a display of a chef’s talents to create gourmet offerings. The point is that usually either the wine or the food is the main center of the wine dinner, one almost always overshadows the other. For example, I attended a wine dinner a few years ago with MacArthur/Addy Bassin’s Liquor where there were over 20 boutique California wines served – yes, the food was excellent at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. (I think it was 7-Courses, but I forget!), but every wine was introduced before each course by either the wine maker or a representative who intimately knew the wines – educational and exhilarating!
“A Speaker Needs to Introduce the Wines at the Wine Dinner”
Not particularly profound, but someone needs to talk about the wines at a wine dinner and the more knowledgeable, the better. Normally, the wine maker or a representative from the wine community talks about the wines with each dish. Some speaker’s introduce the wines before each course, but this can be detrimental: it can add too much time to a dinner and it can get tedious for attendees! Most people don’t want to sit for more than three hours or so at a wine dinner (including breaks – hey, with all that wine, you may need to visit the bathroom!) so the length of an event is important. I always suggest that the wine professional speaker introduce their wines at the event, maybe speak once in the middle of the meal and then at the end of the meal. Most people at these events would rather talk privately to the speaker, so walking around and “schmoozing” with dinner attendees is a smart move.
Things I haven’t covered in this wine dinner discussion include the importance of speedy service, event duration, popular themes for wine dinners, and the myriad of service issues with this type of event. Staffing is VERY important – experience really makes a difference. One of the most impressive wine dinners I ever went to with the wines of Chateau Pontet-Canet at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. was because of one factor: the Sommelier Caterina Abbruzzetti decanted every one!
Of course, there aren’t only wine dinners: In 14 years at TasteDC, I’ve attended craft beer dinners, whiskey dinners, Tequila Dinners, Cocktail Dinners, Rum Dinners and innumerable conceptual “dinners”, often unique and unusual, but one thing they all had in common – the dishes and the beverage were paired in some way..Hope this all whets your appetite – Cheers!
Charlie Adler, Managing Editor
TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar
“Educate Your Palate”
December 18th, 2011 • No Comments
This is Part 2 of organizing a wine tasting (Part 1 Here) – I get the phone call “we want to organize a wine tasting for a <birthday/celebration/housewarming/shower/corporate event/bachelorette party> can you help?” My first question…DO YOU HAVE A VENUE? Reply – total silence, I can literally hear crickets churping..then the mumbling and nervous reply “well, uhhh, no, uhhh (thinking to themselves “you mean I have to think of everything??”) and then often something like “somewhere in DC, Virginia or Maryland”..and now I’m at a loss of words..
Unless your people can teleport wine into their faces, you MUST FIND A VENUE! OK, but how? Couple thoughts..the most obvious venue is the place you work or hangout, maybe someone’s home. Before you make the phone call to a Professional Event Planner (that’s what wine speakers/professionals become from necessity – we have no choice!), ask a friend/co-worker if they know a nice place to hold a wine tasting. Most likely, a short brain-storming session will begin and potential spaces will be considered – someone’s new home, a great meeting place the group already frequents, a winery, etc..DO THIS BEFORE YOU MAKE THE CALL..OK, I have a confession..
Over HALF the phone calls I receive requesting a wine tasting are VENUE SEEKERS, ie. they could care less about a wine tasting, they just want to squeeze my brain for all the venues I know and just work directly with them..But that’s another Subject!
Back to your needs..hotels and restaurants should be your last choice – why? Because they charge many fees that raise the cost quickly and significantly: room/rental fees, food minimums, corkage fees for wine (a little more on this below..), plus taxes and surcharges on top of all that. Many restaurants and hotels don’t allow an outside vendor to bring wine into their facility – of course – they can sell their own wine to you for a 250-400% markup (this is a common cost multiplier – a $6 store bought wine being sold in a hotel for $21.50 to $30 a bottle ++)
Since cost is a major factor to over 90% of the people that call requesting a wine tasting, think cost first – a free venue is the best. What free venues are available to most people? A home comes to mind first, so contact friends who have a nice place, or who for whatever reason (Ego!) want to show-off their abode. What about an apartment complex – many have community rooms that are empty most of the time, and if you know someone who’s a tenant in the complex, that helps a bunch! Some other potential “free” or low-cost venues include office spaces, office building atriums, art galleries, and non-profit spaces. A note about art galleries and other public venue – they may have quite a few restrictions..well, that’s another article, Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler – Check out my book NOW Available on Kindle or Soft-Cover – I Drink on the Job
December 11th, 2011 • No Comments
I’ve organized or promoted over 1,000 wine tastings and wine classes in the Washington, D.C. area since 1997 through my organization TasteDC.com. A few times a week I get a phone call at headquarters (a room in my Georgetown townhouse with 2 computers, a color printer and a Fax..but it IS Ground Zero for DC wine tastings!) asking me to organize a wine tasting or class for a group of say maybe 15 people. What’s funny/unfortunate/amazing is that the call is almost always the same – THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A WINE TASTING IS OR WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR!
A wine tasting is an event from the TasteDC perspective – it has a beginning time, an ending time and a theme to fill the middle of the tasting. Say for example, a wine tasting of wine styles: rent a room, supply it with glassware (maybe a little food – cheese, crackers and bread would be nice!), a selection of wines with say three different “styles” (could be anything, but normally it might be light-bodied, medium-bodied and heavy-bodied wines) and put them at their own tables with volunteers pouring the wine..or people could pour their own wine – then we suggest you put out an information tasting sheet on each wine..
- Do you have a Date?
- Do you have a Venue?
- Do you have a wine “theme”?
There are literally thousands of ways to organize a wine tasting! I do want to make note – if you use the term “wine class” that most likely means a seated event with a speaker. Does a wine tasting necessarily need a speaker? No – the simple answer is sometimes (most of the time!) a speaker ads an unnecessary expense to a tasting – speakers charge for their services and the fees range significantly (I start at about $500 per event, but I have other ways to increase my profitability – hey, don’t attendees want a copy of my book “I Drink on the Job” ?
I’m going to write more about what to look for in a wine tasting – both for a private group and for a fun public form of entertainment – keep checking back – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
October 27th, 2011 • 3 Comments
Photo from a TasteDC Wine Making 101 Class in 2007
I knew the day would come, but I was pushing it off as long as possible..after 14 years, over 1,000 wine tastings, 200 cooking classes and dozens of specialty culinary events (Unique Food and Wine Festival, Chorizo Making class, etc.) would I give up TasteDC?? I knew some current facts:
The game had changed post 2008 Recession:
People spent their home’s future value – the ’08 Recession in a nutshell..banks were lending against a home’s equity..or estimated equity..a bubble..yep, it burst, go figure! When you run a small tasting event business, you need to focus on high margin, low volume events – in other words, lots of small wine classes, cheese tastings, and an occasional mini-festival. I never reached Big for the large events preferring to stay with a small staff (often just me and part-time help!) and slowly increasing the number of events. From 1997 to 2007, TasteDC went from organizing one event a month to as many as fifteen a month. When the bubble burst, people didn’t want to splurge – no one wanted to act like they had any disposable income, it just wasn’t the thing to do. My business dropped by over 50%..
Perceptions of value had changed:
In 1999 a wine dinner was something pretty unique and unusual – wine lovers were still a rarified group who often spoke in a language that no one understood. Wine was prestigious, intellectual and sophisticated and the people who drank it often travelled around or had lived abroad, were college educated and possibly even a bit snobbish. Wine dinners – defined as multi-course seated meals with at least one wine paired per course (but often 2 or more wines per course!) and normally a wine presenter discussing the pairings were relatively expensive – a 4 course wine dinner at a fine dining restaurant would cost you $85 to $150 per person inclusive of tax and tip. Believe it or not, many of these dinners sold out at 35+ people and there never seemed to be enough inventory of this kind of event.
Over time, wine became less prestigious and more of a daily consumable – this is actually a good thing. No longer is wine placed on a pedestal, it’s something you can pick up for a meal at the local grocery store or 7-11 and even casual dining restaurants normally carry at least 20 different kinds of wine in the DC area. Economically speaking, wine dinners have actually gone down in price and consumer perception of value – today, a 5-course wine dinner is often under $100 per person, and many of them barely get ten people to sign-up.
And recently, wine dinners are being replaced with the newest premium beverage to hit the DC Foodie scene – craft beer dinners. Most craft beer dinners are 5-courses and under $70 per person inclusive of tax and tip. Craft beer is perceived to be more approachable and fun than wine, so these dinners are often raucous affairs with a younger more urban crowd. Frankly, these dinners are refreshing to the wine dinner scene which seemed to be constantly inundated by the new rich who just wanted to make sure that everyone knew about their newly built wine cellar in their McMansion and the value of their recent stock option sales. Beer is real, or as I often here quoted “It’s just f***ing beer!”
The Groupon Effect:
This only occurred in 2010 or so, but has had a huge impact – when Groupon, LivingSocial and other online coupon companies began to discount restaurants and stores, it was only a matter of time before events and promotions also began discounting. I makes sense – these sites have millions of potential users and they can really bring new customers. The problem is primarily two-fold: the cost of “grouponing” and the “wait and see” attitude it creates.
If your event is say $70/person, then Groupon will suggest 50% off, so they will sell your ticket at $35/person. Groupon makes money by taking 50% of YOUR HALF, so that means you net $17.50 (LivingSocial and some other sites often don’t take as high a percentage). You can see that as a gain of new consumers and some money, but normally an event doesn’t have higher than a 50% margin, and often lower. Events make money once their fixed costs are covered – stating the obvious. Some of an event’s cost is often covered by corporate/retail sponsors, but in a slow economy, these sponsorships are hard to come by – event tickets are the main income..so how do you make money at $17.50/person? Good question..
I know I’ve only touched the surface of this subject, but the bottom-line is that the ROI on tasting events – the wine classes, cooking classes and other tastings that TasteDC specialized in – has become so low, it’s often negative. Will it ever come back? Who knows..Is TasteDC a dead business proposition..well, not quite yet, there is an alternative business plan, and no it is not a discounting concept, stay tuned..
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler