…not all who attend are wine nerds.
From my own observations, people attend wine tasting events for one of the following reasons:
- to network (rubbing shoulders with people, and giving out business cards)
- to be seen (and hopefully photographed!) and heard
- to drink free wine (or at least drinking wines at reduced costs)
- to actually want to taste wines and learn about them
Last week, I attended a wine tasting event organised by Jackson Family Wines, held at Lawry’s The Prime Rib. Master Sommelier Dimitri Mesnard (international brand ambassador for Jackson Family Wines) was in attendance, who guided the wine luncheon before the trade tasting session. It was not a very big space for a wine tasting event, especially when so many people attended. But, it certainly was a very beautiful space.
The Jackson Family, based in the USA, owns a number of wineries around the world. For this tasting session, they had a good number of wines available for tasting. These wines were represented by the family themselves, and at least 4 other local distributors. I had the opportunity to taste through Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and red blends from various US regions – an exercise that I truly enjoyed and appreciated, as my experience with wines from USA is very limited. The quality of the wines was good, with some really exceptional examples.
One thing that struck me was how often I hear the presenter of a wine tell me the wine was made in an European style, although the truly memorable ones were those with a gutsy American style. But when it comes to quality claims, they all sang from the same song sheet, talking about high standards of production, wine-making technique, and rigorous selection of grape parcels for special labels.
Now, back to the aspect of being at a wine tasting… because this was what prompt me to write this post (after a long break since my last).
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the people presenting the wines, what with the number of wine glasses shafted before their faces, accompanied with a “oh, I’ll try that one too”, just as they finished pouring for someone else. In the room of perhaps 50 persons, I see only 4-5 serious ones who would take time to taste and learn about the wines being tasted. Many of those in attendance were there for a chat and a drink. Ostensibly, many didn’t care that they had just drank some heavy-hitting Cabernet, and are now thrusting their purple-stained glasses asking for a pour of Chardonnay. At the last table where the real blockbusters (and most expensive) wines were, I took time to allow the lady (Gail was her name) walk me through the wines in sequence, and had a really enjoyable tasting bracket. During that time, after every pour for me, Gail had people thrust their wine glasses before her, to which she would ask if they had tasted the lighter style wines. Most times, the response was “it’s ok, I’ll taste this now”.
Well, in reality, probably only wine nerds care about such things. (For the record, I went through all tables tasting their whites, before returning to each for their Pinot Noir, then a final round for their Cabernets. Nerd, yes.)
And, in reality, it does not matter if these guests were tasting the wines in order, or had taken care to know more of the wines being tasted. Because they do end up stumping up cash for the goods, and the distributors and producers who need to make profit can at least be happy about that. As for wine nerds like myself, we come to tastings to learn, engage the staff in conversation, and mostly just leave with a “thank you” for their remuneration…
Just as I finished my tasting and headed towards the exit, I overheard an elegantly dressed lady tell her husband: “I think we should get 2 bottles of this, I really like it.”
Those were Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, listed at $250 per bottle…
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Many thanks to Jessica (Miss @SingaPoured) who got me in! 🙂