Virtual wine tastings have become a popular way to gain familiarity with boutique and craft wines, and to help lesser-known labels gain some traction with wine lovers. Here at The Crafty Cask, we’re very familiar with virtual experiences, having hosted over 50 virtual wine tastings and over 300 beer, cider, and whiskey tastings and mixology classes in the past two years alone. Here’s what to expect if you’re wondering how virtual tasting experiences work.
Typically, virtual tastings involve two or three selections, organized around a region, varietal, or theme. For example, many wineries offer advice about food pairings along with the tastings.
A wine tasting can be BYOB, but more typically, the winery or host will ship bottles or tasting samples to you and other registered participants in advance of a scheduled virtual tasting. Sometimes they’ll include samples of suggested food pairings, if available.
As a host or participant in a virtual tasting, pay attention to preparation. The winery should advise you about whether to chill the bottles. Open the bottles in advance so there’s no embarrassing struggle with a corkscrew shared with all participants. Line up several clean wine glasses according to how many different wines you’ll be tasting. A glass of water or some mildly flavored crackers can also be helpful to have on hand.
Then, fire up the laptop, open whatever group video chat app the host has designated, log in, check your sound, turn on your camera, and prepare to learn about wine!
Private vs. Public Virtual Tastings
Private virtual tastings allow wine lovers to chat one-on-one with a vineyard owner, winemaker, or sommelier. Wine lovers can also book private group tastings for a specified number of friends and family members. In either case, there may be an option to customize the experience with food pairings, trivia, or a cooking class with a guest chef, all offered online. These often offer the opportunity to talk to the host directly, ask questions, and get to know other participants.
Larger vineyards are more likely to structure public virtual tastings like webinars, requiring pre-registration and payment. The fee may include shipping, or the sponsor may give participants a list of wines available in their area that are on the docket for tasting. Public tastings put participants on a virtual chat with strangers, but that could be a fun way to meet other wine lovers.
Whether public or private, virtual tastings enable friends and family from all over the country to gather online and share their opinions and reactions to the wines they’re sampling while discovering and supporting great wineries around the world from the comfort of home.
Choosing a Theme
Wineries will offer tastings that showcase the wines they’re known for, or lesser-known offerings that they want to show off, to generate buzz and interest. Depending on the source of the wine and the available packages, themes can center around grape types (chardonnay, cabernet, etc.), wine types (rosé, sparkling), wine regions, food pairings, or holidays.
If you’d like to branch out from wines, many craft distilleries, breweries, and cideries also offer virtual tasting experiences. They’ll share tasting techniques and sometimes specify ingredients to gather so they can teach you how to mix a few signature drinks.
Virtual wine tastings and cocktail classes offer an entrée to a community of enthusiasts who share a passion for learning about fine wines and spirits. Now that you know how virtual tasting experiences work, and what to expect, sign up for a tasting soon! Interested in hosting a virtual tasting experience for colleagues, clients, or friends? Learn more about The Crafty Cask’s virtual tastings and mixology classes.