Posts Tagged ‘wine dinners’
DC Wine Dinners to Savor: Braida Wine Dinner at Sonoma
Braida Wine Tasting and Three Course Wine Dinner – Legendary Italian Wines from Piemonte was held at Sonoma Restaurant on Friday, October 25th, 2013 and was a truly memorable event..
I really enjoyed this event with a family member of the Braida Winery in attendance – wine expert Norbert Reinisch, Braida’s Export Manager and Founder’s Son-In-Law. The tasting included Braida’s current releases of Montebruna, Il Baciale, Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui..But we also got to taste multiple vintages of Bricco dell’Uccellone and Ai Suma in a pre-dinner wine tasting that was fabulous! Norbert has in interesting personal story: he’s actually Austrian and began his career as a Doctor..somewhere along the line he fell in love with a member of the Braida Family and changed his career from internist to wine ambassador! As they say – tough job – now he gets to travel the world and promote his wine family’s wines and thell their story – I could think of worse jobs!
Monferrato Rosso Il Baciale 2011, $29.99
A blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir and I think Merlot – beautiful cherry fruit with a touch of pepper from the Pinot and some backbone from the Merlot
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2009, $84.99
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2010, $86.99
These two wines were both 100% Barbera but very different. The 2009 had amazing fruit-forward cherry and even a bit of baked apple fruit intensity, and oak was in the background but beautiful licorice/anise on the finish. The 2010 was tight and needs at least a few more years for the cherry fruit to break through the strong structure of French Oak tannins and red skin tannins as well which made this quite licorice on the finish and also a bit closed on the nose – this one will be much better 5 and even 10 years from now!
Barbera Ai Suma 2007, $121.99
Barbera Ai Suma 2009, $112.99
Again, these two wines were picked from the same vineyards, but from different vintages. From the intense aromatics to the first sip, the 2007 was just amazing on the palate with tons of cherry fruit, but also an added dimension – not just great acidity which Barbera is distinctly known for even in these hotter/riper vintages – but this wine had character and almost a brooding development of complexity. The tannins were there, but beautifully incorporated with fruit, oak and lush chewiness on my palate – I felt this wine luxuriously on my palate. The 2009 was also very good, but distintly had more chocolate, baked cherry pie and sweetness that surprised me a bit because it was younger. Make a note: these wines are both around 16% alcohol, so they are trophy wines that can stand-up competitively to top Bordeaux and Napa, but with so much more acidity to keep them refreshing!
Three Course Wine Dinner Menu
Fluke Crudo with preserved lemon, moscatto gelee, frisee and local asian pear
paired with 2012 Moscato d’Asti
Grilled Duck Breast “Autunno” Duck, chicharonnes, Barbera cherry gastrique with savory pumpkin and sage bread pudding
paired with 2011 Barbera Monte Bruna
Plum crisp with Local plums, brown sugar farro crumble and local goat cheese gelato
paired with 2012 Brachetto d’Acqui
Little known fact: the grape varietal “Barbera” was once a throw-away jug wine kind of grape that was never taken very seriously in the Piedmont Region of Italy where Barolo and Barbaresco are the King and Queen of wines respectively. Guiseppe Bologna, the founder of Braida winery, was the first back in the 1980’s to produce prodigious wines by planting Barbera vines on his family’s land and using new French oak as his aging barriques.
How to Create “Event Frustration”
There is nothing more frustrating..
Who’s on First, What’s on Second..you know that frustrating feeling – all you want to do is attend an event that you found on some webpage/flyer/friend mentioned and you..can’t find the details! OK, so you’re not desperate to find out about that cooking class, wine dinner or some other event, but you just wanna know – is it going to happen on a given date (maybe the chef looks good or it’s the perfect “date night” or you’ve always wanted to learn how to mix Rum cocktails..), what’s the price (does it include tax and tip?) and can they accomodate your situation (are there “gluten-free” options, is it vegetarian-friendly..and BTW, what does that mean?).
As a person making a living following food and drink events, it is VERY frustrating for me to find an event and not be able to get clear details – Ugghhhh!! So rather than point the fnger at any Event Organizer, I’m going to tell all Events people how to make your customer – FRUSTRATED TO THE POINT OF BOILING OVER..hopefully you all have a sense of humor..
1) Sell Tickets to your event the Old School way – over the phone..
Diners make reservations for restaurants mostly online, so why would anyone want to call a human being and order tickets to your upcoming wine dinner? That phone call is going to be answered 90% of the time by voice mail, but when I do get a live person, the conversation is PAINFUL! The first most obvious question I ask is “are you holding this event, it’s not on your website?” (most likely I found it listed somewhere else on the internet)..then I get the pause..then I ask to confirm the date, menu, and price..again, I get the infinitely long pause. The worst reaction to my questions is the most likely to happen – the person on the phone puts me on hold and tries to FIND THE INFORMATION!
2) Don’t List the Event on Your Webpage
Or list the event on your Facebook Fan Page – yes, this is bad as well – why? Because a restaurant’s webpage is it’s pride and center of control, as it should be for any business. It’s not wrong to list an event on your Facebook Page, but at least include it as well on your website – even better, have your Fanpage link back to your website. Your website is your reputation..repeat, over and over, again and again..
3) Leave Outdated Events on Your Website
Hey, Father’s Day is over – it’s one day/evening – so make sure you delete it from your page by the next day! I’ve seen events so old that I’m not even sure what year events posted are – nothing freaks a potential attendee out more than the thought that the event is a different year! And of course, then you call, and get the wonderful (sarcasm!) person on the other line..
List “Upcoming Events” and make sure they’re mostly (or only!) events that have occured in the past- I mean, you never know, somebody might like to see the skeleton of your events!
4) Make Sure to Forget at Least One Important Component of the Event
You won’t believe this – I guesstimate that 25% of all events posted on a restaurant website have at least one glaring error – the worst is wrong date, but I’ve seen where a multi-restaurant chain doesn’t list the location of the event, I’ve seen price missing (is tax and tip included, or is that added on later?), how to RSVP (or worse – the restaurant leaves an email or phone number to make the RSVP – would a consumer RSVP to book a reservation at your restaurant that way??), no time listed (just show up anytime!!) and often misleading information or missing information like a menu for a wine dinner.
5) When Answering Any Questions Relating to an Event, Be Evasive
Oh, you don’t believe a top-tier restaurant or hotel staff person could be condescending and lack important details on an upcoming event? Wrong! I’ve emailed and called the top restaurants to get details on their wine dinners – often, they snootily tell me that these wine dinners are only emailed to their “exclusive” email list..so should I not attend the event? And what if I am on that exclusive email list – how do I purchase a ticket..do I have to speak to this snooty person..and hope they answer my questions?
I hope you had fun reading this Post – it’s not meant to be mean or angry (a bit sarcastic — maybe!), but more to bring light to an easily solveable issue. Restaurants seem to act like their website isn’t important: menus that are downloaded as pdf’s, address and contact information missing, and usually extraneous scripts or images that clutter up the screen and actually frustrate the restaurant or event goer. Remember this – people who have money and dine out quite a bit, normally lack time – so use your restaurant website to maximize their time and get them to your place of business..it’s easier to upsell that dessert to someone who’s sitting in your restaurant’s seat – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Miner Family Wine Dinner Hits All the Right Spots..
Guest Post by Christina Portz “Just the Bottle”
Miner Family Winery Dinner – Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the Miner Family Winery Dinner at 2100 Prime at the Fairfax Hotel as part of the Capital Wine Festival.
Because one can never have enough wine, I had a glass of Chandon in the Lounge before the event. There was an interesting assortment of characters in the lounge including a gentleman who used to frequent the restaurant when it was The Jockey Club and two conservative women arguing about Obama. My bartender had lived in DC since the 1980s and used to live on 17th street.
After I finished my glass, I checked in to the wine dinner. I found out I was seated at table 40 – with the winemaker. That’s how important I am (or that I like to think that). The restaurant has been renovated, but still maintains the old school/old DC decor. There was a lovely display set near a bar area of the wines featured for the evening.
2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier
For the reception the viognier was poured. It really is the perfect aperitif. It was incredibly aromatic with the honey suckle notes strongest on the finish.
The general manager spoke briefly, thanked everyone for attending and introduced Gary Brookman, Winemaker, Miner Family Winery.
Gary spoke briefly about the 2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier and presented the 2010 Miner, Napa Valley Chardonnay and 2008 Miner Wild Yeast, Napa Valley Chardonnay.
He provided background and history as to the winery, the use of solar panels at Miner and the incredible amount of varietals planted.
I was surprised at how Gary was down to Earth and incredibly pleasant. Besides speaking to the group at large, he frequently walked around to speak individually to the attendees.
Mango and Avocado Salad, Coriander Cilantro Oil
The first course was paired with 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay. The plating on this and all dishes was spectacular. The buttery notes in both wines went incredibly well with the lobster and avocado notes. There was a creaminess that as a person who normally hates avocado (yes I hate it and no, don’t try to change my mind) was incredibly harmonious.
I was excited to speak with Gary about these wines especially the wild yeast. Apparently, he likes using wild yeast and giving up that control.
He was quite entertaining explaining how wild yeast can start the fermentation and give up or burn out quickly. I imagined little yeasts partying too hard and then dying off as they made this amazing chardonnay.
The 2010 chardonnay did not spend any time in oak, but did go through some malolactic fermentation. The wild yeast had spicer notes on the finish and was more viscous.
Red Wine Lacquered Quail
Arugula, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts
2010 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Garys’ Vineyard is a 50 acre vineyard that was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni.
I love anything that incorporates an egg especially quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pinot noir and quail worked well together bringing out additional flavors.
Gary and I discussed the concept of masculine and feminine pinot noirs. I used to have a boss who hated that description. Gary felt that this pinot was more masculine due to the body.
It was somewhat bright with big cherry notes on the nose with some plum on the finish.
Pepper Crusted Virginia Bison
Wine Sauce, Horseradish Cauliflower Puree, French Beans
2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
As you can see, I really wanted to try this amazing dish and forgot to take a photo before diving in (d’oh).
The 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is almost entirely made of cabernet sauvignon with about 5% cabernet franc and 5% merlot blended in. It was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak. Definitely exhibits some of that almost toasty, vanilla notes on the nose.
The wine was silky with a lushness that went well with the pepper crusted Virginia bison. This was my favorite wine of the evening.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Fresh Berries, Blood Orange Sabayon
2008 “the Oracle” Meritage Blend
The Oracle is a Meritage Blend utilizing Bordeaux style grapes (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec,merlot and petit verdot). It spends 21 months in 55% French oak. It was incredibly balanced and full bodied. There were hints of cassis and blackberries.
I was surprised (like others) that this wine was paired with the dessert. But, it totally worked! I think worked best with the top layer of the dessert – blood orange sabayon.
The Chef, Chef Ferrier, and some of his staff thanked us at the end of the night. They also answered questions regarding Virginia bison. I think some people were becoming more difficult and drunk as the night wore on.
In the end, this was an amazing experience with spectacular food, wine and service. I would highly recommend attending a future wine dinner at the Capital Wine Festival.
Editor’s Note: here are some upcoming Wine Dinners in the DC Area on TasteDC:
-6-Course Texas Wine Dinner on March 2nd (This Saturday Evening) $70, http://www.tastedc.com/event/6-course-texas-wine-dinner-mayfair-pine
-Patz and Hall Wine Dinner (March 5th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-patz-hall-winery-wine-dinner
-Pio Cesare Wine Dinner (March 12th), $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-pio-cesare-wine-dinner
-Wine and Soul Wine Dinner (March 19th), $135, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-wine-and-soul-wine-dinner
-Tres Sabores Winery & Calder Wine Company Dinner (March 26th) $125, http://tastedc.com/content/4-course-tres-sabores-winery-calder-wine-company-wine-dinnerine Company Dinner (March 26th)
Almost 2012..a Look Back at TasteDC
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”
What IS a Wine Dinner?
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”
The “Where” To a Wine Tasting – Beware the Blunders..
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
A Wine Tasting – What’s in a Name?
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
The Grouponater Effect
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