The fall season is always packed with wine-tastings and harvest celebrations! For evidence, just scroll down and check out our Events list. You have absolutely no excuse to sit at home doing nothing this month. Come taste wine and experience the autumn ramp-up to the holiday season!
When you do come out with us, there are a few things to keep in mind; what kind of event are you attending? How do you maximize your time and your tasting limit? How do you remember the wines that made you pause for a second inhalation before that first sip? How do you even select the events you should attend, given your hectic fall schedule?
What kind of event will you be attending? If this is a large event, be prepared for loud hordes and breaking glasses. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and have your ticket and photo ID ready when you arrive. Take public transit to avoid the parking nightmare (and potential dangerous driving afterwards) and eat before you arrive! I usually wear red or black to these events, too--I'm fairly clumsy, and with people jostling each other trying to get their glasses refilled, I've poured Cabernet down my front a few too many times to want to ruin any of my non-wine-colored clothes!
If you're going to a smaller event in a more intimate setting, you can scale back on the crowd-management tricks. There will probably be hors d'oevres or cheese platters, and you can spend a little bit more time speaking to the people pouring their wines. Feel free to take photos of the wines using a real camera (or setting up "artsy" shots for Instagram) instead of hastily snapping blurry photos of the wines you like with your phone's camera.
How do you maximize your time and tasting limit? A lot of wine events will post the wines that will be tasted on their event site beforehand. Some will even include a map of the venue's layout and the location of each winery's booth. Check these out beforehand and do a little research on what your top Must-Visit sites are. While I always advocate trying new wines and expanding your tasting experience, it's more manageable to focus on one or two things at the event if you only have a couple hours to taste. At the Craft Spirits Carnival, for instance, I wanted to try all the whiskeys (especially rye) that were being offered, while my boyfriend was more interested in the craft cocktails and tequilas. By honing down our agenda, we were able to taste everything we wanted in the alotted time.
It's easy at free-pouring events to lose track of how much you've had to drink. Keep an eye on your friends and take a few seconds every time you leave a table to assess your state. Go into an event with an idea of how many ounces of wine you should actually drink, and try to stick to it. You don't want to be the person who everyone avoids because they're obviously out of control. There's a reason police officers are stationed outside Fort Mason during big tasting events. Be safe.
How do you remember the wines you tasted? Take photos! Take notes in a small tasting notebook! And take advantage of the literature the wineries provide at their booth. The people pouring (usually) know a lot about their wines, and if you're unable to purchase the stand-out wines at the event itself, they can tell you where you can stock up once you leave. Bringing the brochures and pictures home will help jog your memory, too. I like to send thank you notes to wineries that I particularly enjoyed, too--that can have additional perks such as getting you on their list for small Christmas gifts and free tasting passes, even discounts on their wines!
How do you choose which events to attend? Obviously, you have to take your own schedule into account, but going to the right events for your taste is more complicated than just selecting the ones that don't conflict with other obligations. What are some aspects of wine that excite you? Are you really into wine and food pairings? Is there a wine region that really excites you or that you really want to learn more about? Is there a varietal or a producer who absolutely amazes you every time you taste a bottle? Go after those events like you would concerts featuring your favorite artists! The variety of wine events is as vast as our individual tastes in wine, so pay attention to the events put on by wineries, organizations, and venues that excite you.
And visit SignatureWines.com and our Facebook page for new wine events all the time!