We are living in unprecedented times and are having to adapt our businesses accordingly to keep up- show our customers we are still drinking, enjoying and offering advice on wine. I had considered the idea of a virtual or online wine tasting a few years ago but quickly decided it was a terrible idea (for me – sorry to anyone making it work already!) Well, fast forward to last week and I realised I had to think again. It’s one of only a handful of ways to get in front of wine enthusiasts in this lockdown.
My main challenge was to decide if I needed to have everyone drinking the same wine. That’s what we do, right? Take people through each wine and educate them about it. But I don’t feel it’s ‘essential’ to be sending out bottles of wine right now so I went with the ‘join in with any bottle of wine open’ approach even though it was the first time I have done a tasting like this. It actually worked really well! Except for the couple who opened a rosé, only because I suddenly had more to talk about in the time I’d allocated for that part of the tasting. So on this point from now on I will be recommending a colour/ style/ country to keep a little more focus. (Tip no.1!)
In terms of numbers, as I wanted more group participation, I had 11 other screens join. I’d capped numbers at 15 but as with everything online I am discovering, we had some ‘drop-outs’ (one mid tasting – luckily they came back so my pride wasn’t dented too much).
One of the couples were clearly more high-tech than me and had managed to get a virtual background of some vineyards in the Loire. It was a fun touch and one that made everyone else feel at ease too when they joined the session. I just had my horn and bell I use in my normal tastings to keep everyone on track which was definitely used less than previous tastings 😉
The first 45 mins flew by, I didn’t even have to look at my emergency ‘talking points’ (again not something I am used to needing – and I did have that rosé to cover). But what was interesting was when I did bring one up, it swung the tasting in a new direction with so much more to discuss. And without the common wine to refocus on it was like a waterfall, with natural and easy interaction.
There are of course many ways to conduct a tasting from more of a Webinar arrangement, videos, back to the classical session with pre planned wines but I wanted to share the challenges I faced to make it easier for all my fellow wine (or other) educators, who may be sceptical about our limitations, so we keep spreading some wine joy to our enthusiasts.