I'm going to write the March blog a little early as it's already applicable. February, March and April are slow for everyone and consequently the best time for commercial wine tastings. We work with eleven Maine distributors, representing thousands of beers and wines.
Every spring and fall they hold hold tasting events for the restraunts and retailers. It sounds like a big party, (`looks like one, too), but, honest to Bhudda, it's work. The big distributors usually hold their events in hotel conference rooms, often with three or four hundred wines represented. Obviously we can't taste them all, nor do we need to.
Jen and I do it a bit differently. I arrive with a "shopping list," of types of wines we're seeking. I taste only the styles on my list, according a number value to each, "buy, maybe buy and `no way, Jose.'" Here's the important part; after tasting, I spit! It's a little gross, but you get used to it. Periodically in the process I have something to cleanse my palate. Champagne is an excellent cleanser, (I know, party time, but it works). I have to admit that some wines are just too good to spit. I have never spat an Amarone, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Barolo or a Chassagne Montrachet!
Jen's view: I drink wine for pleasure, but buy wine in " wine scout " mode, searching for those wines that will be the best wines for our store. I try to ease into the large tastings with the best Champagne that's offerred and walk around scouting from the list of available vendors, for the potential wines I'm curious about. I've come to realize that the majority of major wine trade shows are ridiculous in their enormity, often pouring from hundreds of bottles of wine and additionally taste testing beers as well! If you can imagine a cross between attending your first fraternity party and teleporting into the midst of the stock exchange trading floor, that is the overall feeling. Loud, confusing, crowded scenes are not a good venue for serious wine evaluation. For those hearty enough to take a stab at it, survival 101 is to practice your spitting technique well in advance, and have a plan. We taste the new vintages of our wines and take recomendations from our distributors who know our tastes. One of the best wines I ever tasted was at a trade show. It was an Italian wine that was pure hedonism in a glass.It was produced in such small quantities though, it didn't find it's way into too many wine stores.That is why we attend .
I always prefer the smaller vendor trade shows. A different animal,the atmosphere is less chaotic and usually attended by invitation only , targeted to the more serious wine buyers.That being said, those events aren't pretentious, just focused, casual and more like a hip party than a trade show. You still have to spit most everything,to keep your wits, but while the big trade shows are like the running of the bulls,the smaller ones feel like you're invited to Mick Jagger's garden party, and he's pouring the good stuff.
.© text Black Sheep Wine and Beer Shop 2012