It’s that time of year where everyone wants to know which wine goes with the Thanksgiving Turkey..
Here are some fun wine classes around Thanksgiving that offer more than just the usual suspects like Beaujolais Nouveau and German Rieslings – both great, but there are so many fantastic and fun pairings to consider! The key to Thanksgiving is to consider the whole family..or at least those over 21 years of age – I mean does Aunt Harriet really want some complex pairing partner to her pumpkin pie with marshmallows? Maybe something not too heavy, and even a touch sweet works better! I always say bring 2 bottles to the Thanksgiving meal – one cheap for everybody who just wants something fun to drink and one for yourself..who’s going to notice anyway – just put your favorite bottle under the table, grab and pour when needed..
In this walk-around style event, you will be “Thankful” to taste 15 of our most sought-after. Those wines are hand-selected by our Chef and Sommelier Staff and beyond Beaujolais with 3 stations of wine styles that are perfect compliments to a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Whether you are planning dinner at your own home or want advice on what to bring to a party, our 3 sommeliers will assist you while you taste delicious, great value wines.
This is with Wine Workshop which not only does excellent tastings but some pretty awesome (pricey too!) wine dinners with some of the world’s greatest wine producers..Since Turley’s debut vintage of 1993, it was quickly established that Turley Cellars was deadly serious about making blockbuster Zinfandels from some of California’s oldest, pre-prohibition, head-pruned vineyards. The wines are made from super ripe grapes that express the essence of Zinfandel. Larry Turley’s wines are extraordinarily rich and clearly the most concentrated and powerful Zinfandels ever made. As Robert Parker has stated many times in the past, “Turley Cellars’ offerings have become the reference point for Zinfandel, as they are the most complex, concentrated, hedonistic wines ever produced from this varietal.”
As Fall turns to Winter and Thanksgiving and the December Holidays come close, it’s a fine time to explore the warming wonders of the world’s best fortified wines. They can be dry and savory (like Rainwater or Sercial Madeira) or sweet and unctuous (like Bual Madeira or Port). Some are complements to a fine meal, while others are the crowning touch after dessert. But all are fascinating, fun to explore, and very, very, delicious.
Join us on Sunday, November 23, as we explore the world of sweet and savory fortified wines from Port and Medeira. We’ll taste four Ports, ranging from a wood-aged white Port to a rare single-vintage Tawny and two wines from the great 2011 Vintage Port release:
Rozes Porto White Reserve NV
Quinta Dona Matilde Vintage Port 2011
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2011
Quinta Dona Matilde Colhieta Port 2004
For the Madeiras, we’ll travel back in time to the 18th Century, when Madeira was the most popular drink of our Founding Fathers. The Rare Wine Company and Madeira producer Barbeito have created a line-up of wines that showcase styles most popular in various cities of Colonial America – we’ll try four of them:
Barbeito New York Malmsey Reserve
Barbeito Boston Bual Reserve
Barbeito Baltimore Rainwater Reserve
Barbeito Charleston Sercial Reserve
We’ll serve you some wonderful pairing bites like walnuts, dried fruit, salty bleu cheeses, and even a little dark chocolate so you can enjoy how well the wines play with food. You’ll learn how they were created, are made, and the best way and time to enjoy each wine. Most of all, though, you’ll enjoy eight delicious fortified wines and a rousing good time!
I’ve loved attending wine dinners in the Washington, D.C. area (Northern Virginia and Maryland too!) for the past 15 years over at TasteDC . I’m sort of a wine dinner specialist – so what exactly does that mean? It basically means that I understand and consume plenty of wine, and the whole concept of creating a dinner around wine and food pairing just seems natural to me – and quite enjoyable!
My baby TasteDC just got hired to promote a series of wine dinners for a very reputable local Spanish restaurant chain – La Tasca Restaurants. I like both their concept and their willingness to use wine dinners and cooking classes as a smart way to extend their brand. Today’s restaurant goer has so many choices, but what will get her attention in the crowded restaurant scene. How about treating going out to eat as an experience for all the senses and not just an excuse to fill the belly? Just from experience, people who attend wine dinners are generally not only Foodies, but they’re also more intelligent, better paid, travel more and appreciate the nuances of pairing food and wine in a multi-course dinner. Sound snooty? Actually, wine dinners can be really fun, and often the banter and conversations are very interesting and entertaining!
Here’s a series of Washington, DC wine dinners, Virginia wine dinners and Maryland wine dinners that TasteDC is promoting/marketing for La Tasca:
4-Course Torres Spanish Wine Dinners,$75 inclusive of food, wine, tax & tip
Various Dates and La Tasca Locations – See Below
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines * 4 Course Dinner * Prize Trip to Spain * Flamenco Show
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines | 4 Course Dinner | Prize Trip to Spain | Flamenco Show
An Exciting Evening!
We are thrilled to invite you to join us for an incredible evening, complete with tastings of eight notable wines led by the passionate and amazing folks at Torres Wines. In addition, enjoy a four-course dinner prepared by executive chef Josu Zubikarai, an open bar, an exclusive flamenco performance, and a small gift to take with you. And let’s not forget that, as part of the Torres Wine Festival, all guests will be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona, Spain!
Have you ever thought of wine as art? Now is your chance. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss!
When and Where?
We are hosting Torres Wine Dinners at all of our La Tasca locations. Every event will be held from 6-9pm. If events reach capacity, we will add additional dates.
It’s Cocktail (Half) Hour
For the first half hour, from 6–6:30, a choice of sangrias and signature appetizers will be served. During this time we will also introduce our Torres host, who will lead the wine tasting for the evening.
Wine, Anyone? Oh, and Dinner Too
Paella Square Prepared by Chef Josu, dinner will be served over three courses. At moments during dinner, guests will be led through a tasting (and a fascinating history) of some of Spain’s most interesting wines, stretching across various regions and including popular varietals like verdejo and tempranillo. Not a wine connoisseur? No worries, this is a perfect way to learn and get excited about wine.
Dessert will be served following dinner, along with coffee and teas and a featured dessert wine.
During dessert, watch the passion and the heritage of Spain come to life with a spirited flamenco performance from the most well-known dancers and musicians in the area.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
The cost of the event is $75 per guest and is all-inclusive — the wine tasting, dinner, all beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), dessert, flamenco performance and all taxes and gratuities are covered in the ticket price. Dress is casual and accommodations will be made for guests with any dietary restrictions.
To register for the event, please select one of the event dates shown on the calendar to the right. After selecting a date, scroll down the event details and click on “Book Now”. All guests will be entered for the chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona in 2014. Details on this contest and prize are being finalized, but information will be updated at the link on the right.
I attended a really fun Sparkling Wine Comparison Tasting of Champagne vs. The Rest at the Hill Center as part of the Barracks Row Culinary Crawl on Sunday, February 17th, 2013. There were actually 2 speakers at the event: Burnie Williams of Chat’s Liquors who did most of the educational component of the event and a French gentleman I only remember as “Charles” who spoke about the specifics of the 4 wines we tasted because he imported them.
The Setup: We sat in a U-shape at tables with each of getting 4 flutes of sparkling wine. I thought the black table coverings were a nice touch even though traditionally you look at wines through a white background (and tablecloths) – but why? The colors of the wine show exceptionally well against a black background – maybe for red wines a different story, but we only had one rosé, so no issue here. The Frenchman opened each wine and came down the interior of the “U” and poured each glass individually – as you can see on the left, it’s a visually pleasing way of pouring wine/presentation!
The Wine: There were 4 sparkling wines poured of which 2 were non-Champagne (one Italian, one French Cremant) and two “true” Champagnes. (I’ve included “suggested retail price” which usually means you can get them for a bit less..)
Ca’ dei Zago DOC Proseccor Coi Fondo 2010 – Prosecco is actually made in a less expensive method than traditional Champagne – the Charmat method, where the second fermentation is done in tank. This was also a pretty dry version of Prosecco – they usually are a bit more sweet.
Klein “Cremant d’Alsace” Chardonnay Extra Brut (Alsace, France), $29.99 – very nice Chardonnay based sparkler – pretty good value.
Champagne Francois Diligent Rose Cote de Bar, NV (Champagne, France), $36.99- this wine was a bit funky, but I think the cork had ruined it..
Laherte Freres “Les Vignes d’Autrefois-A Chavot” Extra Brut, 2006 (Champagne, France) $74.99 – My favorite by a long shot – price doesn’t always determine quality, but this wine had the wine on the lees for 3 years in bottle and this created that nutty, smokey, yeasty complexity that I LOVE in Champagne – by this one for me!
The Education: Burnie Williams, the owner of Chat’s Liquors did an excellent job of covering a pretty involved and complex topic. You see, sparkling wines are created different from other wines – they must go through a second fermentation to create the bubbles, the first fermentation creates the “wine” and alcohol. He did an excellent job of covering both the history (yep, Dom Perignon was NOT the inventor of sparkling wine!) and the process of making sparkling wines. I’ve attended many sparkling wine classes so rather than bore with you with all the details, the most interesting parts of making this type of wine are:
Lees – these are the dead yeast that drop to the bottom of the barrel or bottle, depending on how you’re aging your wine. If you let them stay with the wine and age, they create a yeasty/nutty flavor and aroma, if you take them away (slightly different than “filtering” a wine, but similar process), then the wine will have a cleaner more fruit-driven expression.
Riddling – this is the process of turning the bottles a few turns every so often for maybe a year or two to get the dead yeast from the 2nd fermentation out of the wine. This was once done by humans wearing cages on their face to prevent chards of glass from cutting their faces if the bottles exploded (19th century bottles had poor technology!), but now often done by machines.
Disgorging – After riddling, the dead yeast/lees are now upside down in the bottle and form a plug of..dead yeast! This has to be removed or “disgorged” – the way it’s done today is by freezing this gook but putting the bottles part way into an ice bath with salted water – the low temperature freezes only the plug and thus it is pulled out.
Dosage – This is after the dead lees are taken out, the final flavor and sugar level is added back – Brut is less sugar than Extra Dry, so the type of flavor/sweetness is determined at this point. Overall, had a really fun time at this event and it was a helluva deal at such a low price! I’m chatting it up with Chat’s Liquors to do more tasting events – DC has very few wine tastings right now, and the demand is there. As always, keep drinking good sparkling wine, Champagne or whatever is in your glass..you only live once – Cheers!
I took 2 classes, but this article will only cover the class Pasta Making With Chef Wendi – a 60 minute class where 12 total participants got to make our own pasta and share in the meal afterwards – all for a whopping 20 Bucks! I’ll take you through a quick run-through of the class:
Instructor: Wendi James who teaches quite a few culinary classes at other schools in the region including at Culinaerie, Sur La Table – Pentagon City, VA (or she said she once did – another story!) and at her own cooking school Rutabaga Sweets. I spoke with her before class and she has quite a pedigree having worked at many top-rated restaurants in the U.S. (she worked at Restaurant Daniel NYC, The Inn at Little Washington and Charlie Trotters Chicago) and hailing from serious Foodie City Chicago. Her attitude was refreshingly honest and she spoke her mind about the local restaurant scene and her plans to open up a breakfast place in Asheville, NC. As an instructor, she was direct and “get to work” – but of course we only had 1 hour to make both hand-roll fettucine and ravioli with the hand-cranking pasta machines – no time to dilly-dally..
Flour, Eggs and maybe 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil!
Pasta Ingredients – simple..all you really need is All-Purpose flour, some eggs, and a little olive oil (you could actually skip the olive oil). I was working with 2 other cooks who had never made pasta homemade before. Maybe you can get a little fancy and learn to crack an egg with one hand, but one secret to getting the egg in the flour with No Shell is to crack the egg against a flat surface NOT the bowl. If you mix it in a bowl, it’s very forgiving, but it’s nice to make a small “well” in the middle of the flour to hold the eggs and then swirl a fork (or your hand – watch out, it can get sticky/messy!) until the ingredients all become a dough..if it’s too sticky, add some flour, if it’s too dry, add a little water, it’s very forgiving.
State of the Art Cooking Facility
The Facility and Setup: Class is held in Hill Center’s state-of-the Art teaching kitchen. It was relatively small – only fitting 1 instructor and 12 participants, but it was truly an easy kitchen to learn from and to do hands-on cooking. There was the main table where everyone gathered round in a circle with the burners, and then there were 2 work tables in the back for up to 6 participants each. Things were kept very simple – we were given a bowl of flour and eggs, some olive oil and a tablespoon, and the ravioli filler which we had to cut up the basil and add to the ricotta and parmesan cheese to put into the ravioli’s – just like Italian food, there were simple ingredients and simple instructions. If you’ve ever been to Italy and have seen how pasta is made – it’s very simple and traditionally was done by Grandma at home. BTW – you can also make pasta without the eggs and just using water – that’s how it’s often done in the south of Italy. And then, we had to roll..
Hand making Ravioli
Once you make the dough, you can wait an hour or immediately begin rolling it out into sheets. The way it works is that you begin with the widest opening, do that a few times until the dough kind of “comes together” (the gluten begins to stretch and take shape) and then you keep feeding the sheet into smaller/narrower settings until you get to the lowest setting – and boy, does the dough spread out – I mean it can go for yards! The same sheet of dough can be used for noodles or for ravioli and fillings – I once took a class where different kinds of flour were used for both (All Purpose Flour for Ravioli because it’s relatively soft/tender, semolina flour for a chewier pasta) but frankly it’s a matter of personal taste.
Cooking Pasta: The sauce in this class was made for us (another post on Sauce..soon..) but in a nutshell there was a white sauce with cheese and cream and a red sauce with tomatoes of course. So Chef Wendi boiled the pasta in unsalted water – a discussion ensued – in Italy, they always salt their water for pasta (“as salty as the sea” is the famous quote on how much salt for pasta water – this always starts an argument with Italian cooks!) – her philosophy is you don’t salt the pan when you sear a steak, you salt the steak – so my interpretation is that the pasta/ingredients and the salt should be properly salted. In my own defense of the Italian way of salting the water – it depends – for example, if you cook your greens in the salted water before you cook your pasta (like for Broccoli Rabe and Orecchiette), you have a very flavorful pasta water..well, just like 2 Italians, Chef Wendi and I may never agree!
Last week I was lucky enough to attend two different events that were part of the 14th Annual International Food and Wine Festival. I had two more events that I could have attended, but my liver asked me to take a break.
On Tuesday, I volunteered with Washington Wine Academy to pour at the Regional Food and Wine Celebration. After our check-in and briefing, I immediately ran to the Etude table. I poured the 2009 Estate Chardonnay Carneros and 2009 Pinot Noir. I love the Pinot Noir. The nose was quite Earthy as if it were a baby Burgundy. It was so smooth with a lingering finish. Many people refused to try the Chardonnay, but I think that’s more people’s own hangs ups on Chardonnay. It was very balanced with vanilla, toast and some citrus mid-palate.
Around 9:00pm, most of the volunteers, distributors who poured, staff and some attendees wandered down to the VIP after party. That’s where I decided to open a Stag’s Leap Chardonnay…or two among other bottles. I was so excited to finally try it. Another great Chardonnay with a creamy mouth feel and green apple flavors throughout.
I ended up taking the last train home and arriving about 1:00am.
The next day at work was somewhat rough. I almost didn’t make it to my second event – Sommelier Showdown. I won tickets by answering a trivia question on Facebook. Yes, it can be that easy.
I was lucky enough to bring a friend and ran into another friend at the event who writes her own blog. This event like the night before took place in the lovely atrium area of the Ronald Reagan Trade Building. After checking out some of the wines being poured and food, we decided to start with scotch. SCOTCH! There was a representative pouring Glenmorangie 12 year, 12 year Sauternes, 12 year Sherry Cask and 12 year Port Cask. I only tried the Sauternes and Sherry as I thought I would finish with the Port cask. I was surprised at how I preferred the Sherry Cask. The spice and sweetness was much more balanced and smooth throughout.
There were a few tables I was in love with at the Sommelier Showdown. The Achaval Ferrer table was pouring the Quimera 2010 and Finca Bella Vista 2010. Their wines are consistently highly rated. The 2010 Finca Bella Vista is a top ten wine of 2012 according to Wine Spectator and received a 95 point rating. It’s everything that I want out of a red wine – powerful, intense with silky tannins.
Leah Cheston, Wine Director, Ris, won the Sommelier Showdown! It was definitely a challenge. We were able to taste the wines after the competition was over.
Again, second day in a row, I go to the after party event. It was an amazing time, however, I forced myself to get home by 11:30pm.
Friday and Saturday simply fell apart. I had tickets to attend the Last Sipper and International Tasting, but could not muster the energy. I even ended up canceling my Restaurant Week Reservations.
Even though I needed a good part of the weekend to sleep, last week was a great time with wine, food and friends.
I attended a LivingSocial sponsored event “Wine + Cheese at Black’s Bar & Kitchen” (Bethesda, MD) on Saturday, November 17th, 2012 from 1 – 3 pm – actually, it was the first event I had attended through LivingSocial even though I had purchased many restaurant deals from them in the past. The event had 2 flights of cheeses, 12 cheeses in total and wines were paired with them, a total of 8 (See list of wines and cheeses with Photos below). It was a seated event and guided tasting with main presenter Chef Mallory Buford speaking about the cheeses and Black’s Sommelier Anderson Plunket discussing the wines. Chef Buford was very knowledgeable about cheese, but each cheese producer also had their own representative/distributor to talk about each cheese’s qualities. It was a nice combination of class and chance for people to talk amongst themselves – I would call it “lecture light” and more of a chance for people to try everything and make their own conclusions. This restaurant is really known for seafood so it’s kind of interesting that they decided to try a cheese and wine event – my understanding is that all of these cheeses are on their existing menu, so that makes sense..but don’t ask an Italian – they claim that seafood and cheese should never go together!
So these 2 young ladies taught me a new term “Drink Until Your Sober” – I sort of understood what they meant, but they elaborated that this is when you keep drinking, especially wine, and you no longer feel drunk/act drunk..not sure if this is true, but it’s an interesting perspective none the less – Cheers!
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”
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!
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
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!