The best thing about tasting wine? Tasting it with others…
Drinking a bottle of wine with no one else to share it with is boring: in solitude I don’t appreciate the wine as much as I do sharing it in a group. I might assess and appreciate the first glass, but by the second my attention is already on the wane.
I also learn more about wine in a tasting with others than drinking it by myself. Everyone tastes differently: listening to your companions’ thoughts about a certain wine broadens horizons and taste buds alike.
In groups you exchange opinions and reflections; I often passionately ‘fight’ for a wine too, trying to convince others how beautiful this wine is.
‘Before the pandemic’ – and throughout my whole life – I’ve been a regular taster at cellar doors, industry events and at friends’ houses. So what a rude stop to all that it was when COVID came along… Restrictions + social distancing regulations = putting a stop to many of my beloved and necessary tasting routines.
That said, one of the best tastings I’ve had for some time was at a recent windswept outdoor gathering outside of a local beach kiosk near where I live. The idea to gather in the open was born out of a group of friends who could no longer meet inside their local watering hole. They had to find an alternate ‘COVID-safe’ location. And this little beauty was it.
Taking place weekly – and organised by a wine aficionado neighbour – these open-air tastings are a godsend. We all bring a bottle – or two! – and the wines are enthusiastically debated and consumed. I’m hooked!
Social distancing is the first priority so the group is not larger than ten people – not counting of course the accompanying playful wine dogs in attendance!
The tasting conditions might be improvised but the fun and enjoyment are invaluable! I’ve learned about new wines, rediscovered old ones, with the conversations engaging and the sunset ‘backdrops’ stunning. The dogs have a ball too!
With social distancing rules starting to ease and return to cellar door tastings slowly cranking up again, I’m of course super-happy. I have missed them! But one of the things that the restrictions have made me just as grateful for is the innovation of social connection during this time.
I’m stoked to have discovered these friendly weekly tastings at the beach – even more so that they will stay, to become a regular and permanent part of my local wine tasting and social routine.
All photos by Milton Wordley. Visit Milton’s blog ‘People of Wine’ to read engaging interviews with wine professionals from around the world.