This past Saturday, the girls from Half Past Wine-O-Clock headed to Pamplemousse in Reading for a huge wine tasting featuring over 50 wines! Here’s some insight into our tasting experience, and some tips for attending wine tastings!
The small shop – which sells a wide variety of wines, cheeses, craft beers, sandwiches, and gourmet cooking supplies – swarmed with wine enthusiasts.
At the door, each visitor was given a pamphlet listing the wines featured at each of the 11 – yes, eleven – sampling tables. Along with the pamphlet, visitors received tasting glasses and a personal number. FOR FREE!
This number served as a marker for all purchases: at each station, if a taster loved a wine, they could claim it at the table with a sticker featuring their personal number! After the tasting, runners bring all the wines associated with the customer’s number to the front so they can purchase the wines without carrying them around during the tasting.
Each table had around 5 wines on display, complete with an eager wine expert to explain the taste, history, origin, and components of the wine. Depending on what you were looking for – a family-owned vineyard, organic or eco wines, well-aged wines – the table’s server had the answers! It was a great way to not only taste the wines, but get to know them as well.
Another plus to the event were the spreads, cheeses, and food samples displayed around the shop. By table three, Kristen and Briana were already feeling the effects of the wine. With 8 more tables to go, snacks and water were a must-have!
Some tips we’d recommend, based on our experience, are these:
- Don’t wear heels! We know you want to keep it classy and cool, especially when surrounded by well-rounded wine experts and sommeliers. But trust us: a pair of nice flats will do just fine, and shifting uncomfortably off your heels from foot-to-foot will shadow the classiness your heels emit. Standing in tasting lines and in front of tasting stations while savoring wines will add pressure to your heels and the soles of your feet. Keep your attention on the wines, not the discomfort of your cute heels!
- Bring water! Many tastings offer the taste-and-spit option which, however nasty it may seem, can save a lot of trouble when faced with the task of driving home. However, many do not offer this, and this means you’ll end up consuming a bit of alcohol during your stay. While Pamplemousse offered stations to dump excess wine, each sip and taste does add up, even if it’s just one per wine. By the end of the tasting, that’s over 50 sips! Excited wine experts want to show off their wines, and want you to taste them right, so it’s difficult to avoid tasting more than you’d planned. Bring water just in case the venue doesn’t offer as much as you’d hope.
- Go in with a plan to avoid leaving tipsy: Like we said, the wine experts want you to enjoy all of their favorites and find a wine you love. It’s hard to keep a sober mind, though, when you taste every wine offered. We skipped an entire station because we weren’t interested in the wines, and skipping certain ones you know you’re not interested in can save you from getting a buzz before you head out.
- Don’t be afraid to splurge! Ok, maybe we’re saying this to justify our own pricey purchases. But the truth is, a tasting is the best time to spend a little bit extra – especially if you haven’t paid to get in. Why, you ask? Well, when else would you be able to pick a pricey wine and know for sure you’re going to love it? When you can sample a pricier wine and know you adore it, you know it’s worth the money. That’s a lot better than splurging at another time when you’re not sure what the wine will taste like. Plus, the wine experts will be able to give you serving tips (such as how long to decant/let the wine breath before serving) to ensure you enjoy its taste to the fullest.
Here’s a sneak peak at some of the wines we bought, which you may see reviews about soon! Featuring Eden, an Ice Cider, Hanh S.L.H., a vibrant Pinot Noir, and Sunday Funday, a marketing masterpiece! Our fancy wine is a surprise, though: you’ll have to wait to see what we spent $50 on for the holiday season!
Have you ever gone to a wine tasting before? What tips do you recommend for first-time tasters?