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Virtual Wine Tasting Is Actually a Thing Now

Virtual wine tasting is a fun and affordable way to experience the vineyards from the comfort of your home.

In the past few months many people worldwide have been tasked with digitizing their lives. Businesses have scrambled to find ways to take their products and services online. Friends and families likewise have tried to stay connected despite the need for social distancing. Coronavirus with all its devastation has conversely spurred a great deal of creativity. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Virtual Wine Tasting 

One activity that has “gone live” is wine tasting. Several wineries have come up with the option of virtual wine tastings. This allows them to provide their services online and also provides an opportunity for people to have one less event to cancel, or one more excuse to put actual clothes on. 

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Virtual wine tastings work by allowing customers to order a set of wine bottles and choose an appointment time. Once the customer's order arrives, they have a tasting guided by an employee.

The companies have used platforms such as Facebook live and zoom. Each winery puts its own spin on the tasting. Some of the virtual wine tastings are more direct translations of a traditional wine tasting experience, while others are more like Zoom parties hosted by the winery. While virtual wine tastings are not necessarily new, they are a new necessity for wineries aiming to satisfy members that can no longer safely attend tastings.

These wine tasting experiences also offer a new market of customers the opportunity to participate in something that may have previously been off the table due to distance or time constraints. 

Wine Tasting 101 

Wine tasting is essentially an evaluation of wine, which can range from the extremely technical to the recreational. There are four basic stages of wine tasting: look, swirl, smell, and taste. Looking involves placing the glass at a straight angle view to properly observe its color. Your glass of wine should also be viewed from the side to observe clarity and then tilted to judge age and weight. Swirling the glass releases its aromas and also gives you important information about the alcohol content of the wine.

The streaks or “legs” that run down the glass after you swirl it are caused by alcohol. The higher the concentration of alcohol, the more legs you will see after swirling, no pun intended. After a nice swirl (work your way up to fanciful air swirls), you can sniff the glass to learn more about the wine. Fruit, flowers, herbs, and other scents can be identified to give you a full tasting experience, however, you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the smell of your wine.

Last but not least is the tasting. A small, straw-like sip will allow you to taste the wine properly. Experts at the Wine Enthusiast explain that tasting allows you to determine if the wine is “balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.” As stated above, wine tasting can get quite technical. For newbies wanting to approach it as a learning experience, it may be helpful to take a quick online course.

Virtual Wine Tasting Is Actually a Thing Now
Source: Michael Radovin/Flickr

Going Live With Wine Tasting 

While many people may be less than thrilled at today’s new norm of endless Zoom meetings and virtual get-togethers, a wine tasting kit may soften their perspective on having to use tech to connect.

Wine tasting at home allows the participants to have a new experience, and to interact with new people, something that is becoming increasingly difficult in the era of COVID-19. This could be a great way to have a get together with old college friends, or for those who love hosting events, to celebrate a milestone that doesn’t allow for a physical gathering.

Virtual wine tastings have the potential to set a celebratory ambiance during troubling times. Hosting a tasting or attending a group tasting may be an interesting alternative to canceling birthday parties, girl’s nights, and office parties for the foreseeable future. 

Virtual wine tastings start by sending you a kit. The kit will have all of the wine involved in the tasting. Some kits have small amounts of wine similar to those of an actual tasting, which also proves to be quite cost-effective.

Speaking of cost, the average virtual tasting is marketed at the cost of the wine - which is the consumer’s choice based on the order. Even for wine tasting packages that send you a bottle for each wine to be tasted, virtual wine tasting can be experienced at every budget.

Price ranges average between $30 and $70 for private tastings, while other companies host live-streamed events that are free. There are also more expensive options for those who want larger amounts or higher qualities of wine and a more technical tasting. 

Choosing a wine tasting experience

Wine.com offers free, celebrity-hosted virtual wine tastings that are live-streamed and feature different tastes, themes, and experiences with each tasting.  Events listed include Santa Barbara Wines on May 14, 2020, Dos Hombres Mezcal on May 21, 2020, and Oregon’s Trailblazing Winemakers on May 28, 2020. You can check out Airbnb's different virtual experiences including live-streaming wine tasting experiences. 

For those seeking a more personalized experience, The Spire Collection has offered sessions that do not require membership and can be scheduled and purchased simply for the cost of the wine. Their collection features wine from around the globe, and a virtual tasting with their wine educator can be quite informative for the globally-minded consumer. 

For those who had trips to Napa Valley planned this year, there is no need to fret. Virtual wine tastings are offered in abundance by the wineries of Napa Valley. Napa Valley's virtual tastings have a variety of themes and experiences. There are Taco Tuesdays and blending sessions alike.

A great feature of many of the Napa Valley virtual wine tastings is seeing the scenery of the vineyards. Your tasting may be led by an employee or an owner. It may not be the exact trip you had in mind, but it's a chance to get away from the Groundhog’s Day reality many of us seem to be stuck in.

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