Monday, October 6, 2008

Do You Need Some New Wine Ideas? Don't Listen to Us!

We've been at this blog for a year now and I just realized something: No one is going to buy a $25-$30 bottle of wine because we said we liked it. So, what should you do if you don't love the wine you've been buying and you're reluctant to buy wine you haven't tried? Go to a tasting! Wine shops have them all the time and they are totally a popular affair--as in, suitable to the majority, no reason, whatsoever, to be intimidated. In fact, chances are very high that the blow-hard tasting patron spouting off about lack of balance and such sort actually doesn't know anything about wine beyond what he's read in an old copy of Wine Consumer at the barber shop. As long as you refrain from asking if they mixed cherries into the wine in order to make it smell like cherry--I have heard variations of that question on two different occasions--you'll be good!

Other than that, all you need to taste like a pro is to have your swirl, sniff, sip down. Go early to avoid the crowds. Get there 10 minutes before the tasting is scheduled to start even. Definitely avoid wearing perfume and avoid standing next to people wearing perfume. Many wine shops will provide patrons with a real glass, but some may use plastic cups, so bring your own glass to be on the safe side. You want to actually be able to taste the wine so you can decide if you might want to take a few bottles home (mouthwash cups aren't conducive to tasting).

Finally, stay focused. It can be difficult amidst the din of a big tasting, and distractions take away from your ability to taste the wine. While part of the point is to taste new wines you haven't been exposed to, it can be a good strategy to zero in on a subset of the full offering that you think you might be most likely to buy.

For the most part, wine shops hold tastings for free as a way to get people interested in the wines they carry. Usually a representative for the wine distributor or importer is pouring a selection from the portfolio that they sell to the wine shop. Typically most of the wines on tap at a free tasting sell between $9-$15 a bottle and never exceed $50 (that would get too expensive to pour for a free tasting). The wine shop will generally offer a discount on the wines at the tasting as well, so it can be a great opportunity to stock up on some exciting new wines.

Some of our favorite local shops with tastings are:

Salem Wine Imports, Salem, MA
Ourglass, Saugus, MA
The Vineyard, North Andover, MA
Leary's, Newburyport, MA

A really complete list of local New England wine related events is available on A Passionate Foodie. Richard may soon have news of another new tasting venue in Massachusetts, but we'll wait for that story to break on his blog...

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