Wine tastings are highly subjective experiences, and that’s what makes them exciting. There are not only myriad ways to handle a wine tasting event, but a myriad of opinions, once it gets underway. While some people may rave about the nose, the color and the notes in a particular wine, others might be literally spitting out that sample and waiting for the next one. An in-person wine tasting with an expert is a delightful experience, but when Snooth initially contacted The Advicesisters to attend a virtual wine tasting, that of Argentinian Malbecs, and then another, focusing on wines from Lodi California, I was intrigued. “What would a virtual wine tasting be like?” I wondered.
Virtual wine tastings have all the elements of the in-person variety, but since they are online, participants have the added advantage of gathering with other like-minded people from different places who for practical reasons, couldn’t possibly get together in one room at the same time any other way. It’s a modern, novel and entertaining way to learn about wine and connect with others, without even having to leave home.
After two sessions with Snooth.com, we’re hooked!
Snooth.com is a wine site that hosts over a million oenophiles (wine lovers) and offers them lots of ways to interact with wineries, stores, and wine professionals from all over the globe. These include Snooth’s daily newsletters, wine search, recipes, shopping, social forums and interactive media tools. Snooth encourages participants to leave reviews of the wines they have tasted and if you’re looking for advice, information, food pairings or just want to see what’s new and novel, you can find it online at Snooth!
Most virtual wine tastings have a moderator/host. Virtual wine tastings at Snooth are moderated, usually by Snooth Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz (GDP) who does a good job of asking questions of his invited guests, and also taking questions via the chat-room that participants get access to when they sign up for the tasting. To sign up, you simply go to the Snooth.com web site (or use whatever link is provided to you by the host) and sign in.
Once you sign in and the chat begins, (sometimes chat is replaced by Tweet-ups where participants use a special (#) hash-tag and twitter to make real-time comments), you are part of the group. It was obvious to The Advice Sisters that there are Snooth fans who participate in the Snooth tastings on a regular basis, and they knew one another. But everyone was friendly. Still, a virtual tasting takes some getting used to. The chat room is very lively, and the live video stream with the moderator and the experts is running at the same time. For me, that was enough to process. Participants however, as also encouraged to use the chat room, to tweet with the proper hash tags, ask questions, and leave tasting notes for each wine on the Snooth site (this could be done later but we wanted to put down our impressions while they were still fresh). You have to stay very focused, but you get used to it.
For the Lodi virtual wine tasting the featured guest was Stuart Spencer from the Lodi Winegrape Commission. The wines listed for tasting were: 2010 Klinker Brick Winery Old Vine Zinfandel ; 2010 Michael David Winery Petite Petit ; 2011 Macchia “Amorous” Sangiovese; and; 2011 Uvaggio Vermentino . We had bottles of the Klinker Brick and the Uvaggio. My husband is a huge fan of big zins (Zinfandel) and for the price (about $20) this was a good bargain. It was ripe and fruit-forward as would expect from a California Zin, and it had some signature smoke and tobacco notes. It probably was influenced a bit due to Lodi’s hot climate because it was not as balanced as many of the Zins that we have had from say the Russian River valley, but some of the participants suggested that the Old Ghost zinfandel from the same old vines was a great wine. The white wine we tasted, the Uvaggio, was a very interesting wine – kind of a cross between a Pinot Grigio and a Gruner Veltliner. It was very citrusy and would be a great pairing wine with fish or just alone on a summer evening.
For the World Malbec Day tasting event, the host was again, Snooth’s Gregory Dal Piaz joined by Wines of Argentina Representative Nora Z. Favelukes. The wines listed for tasting were: Trivento Bodegas, Trivento Reserve 2012 ; Finca Flichman, Dedicado 2009 ; Michel Torino, Altimus 2010; and; Terrazas de los Andes, Terrazas Single Vineyard Las Compuertas Malbec 2010. Again, we had just two of the four – the Dedicado and the Altimus. In both cases these wines represented what one looks for in a Malbec from Argentina – rich purple tanic Bordeaux style wines. Both showed rich red fruits but with a lot of spice – in the case of the Dedicado there was a hint of mint that some said could be eucalyptus) and many of the participants discussed some chocolate or coffee notes. What you taste in a wine is, for the most part, subjective, so there are no wrong answers.
To be part of a virtual wine tasting at a place like Snooth, you also need to become part of the virtual wine community. You can sign up for the Snooth tastings on their web site www.snooth,com or through their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/snooth. It’s free to do so. Once registered, you’ll have access to all sorts of information that wine lovers want and need. Then you can also sign up for the virtual tastings.
Wine can’t teleport itself through the Internet, of course. Obviously, you need to get some actual bottles of wine to taste. At Snooth.com you can find a listing of the upcoming virtual tastings, with the list of the wines that will be sampled and discussed and links to places to buy the wine (or take the list to your local wine store and get them). Snooth did send The Advice Sisters two bottles of the four wines to sample and discuss for each tasting, for us to write about. But the good news is that from the two wine tastings with Snooth, they kept the wines under $24 with the average bottle around $15. If you’re going to taste at least four wines, it makes some practical and economic sense to get a few wine lovers together (in person) for nibbles or dinner, and share the wine and the cost. Many of the participants were doing just that, and commenting on their groups’ impressions and what they were pairing with each wine.
Drinking wine can be be a solitary, or a social, activity, but whether you taste with friends, or by yourself, logging on to a virtual wine tasting connects you with wine aficionados, experts and vintners, and it’s a can’t-miss experience! **If you want to learn more about Snooth.com visit their website. You can also check out some of the previous wine tasting events, including the two that The Advice Sisters participated in, at: http://www.snooth.com/video/
*Advicesisters.net and Alison Blackman thanks our wine enthusiast, John Dunham for helping with this article