In The Beginning They Are Sophisticated But In The End It’s Really About The Party
I love wine tastings and wine festivals.
I enjoy them much more than I actually enjoy the wines.
That’s because they are fun events, and I find it fascinating to watch the demeanor and the mood of the people change as the event progresses.
Most people arrive savvy and sophisticated and leave sloppy and slurring. And smiling.
You can almost chart the progress of a wine festival like a football coach preparing a game plan:
• The first hour, the educated wine drinkers (and wine snobs; there’s always a few) pace around the booths or tables inspecting which wines are best suited for their discriminating tastes. They will turn away from a few that are not up to their standards.
• The first hour, the educated wine drinkers will exchange a few pleasantries with others, with conversations almost exclusively about the wines. Talk with those pouring the wines will always be about the wine, such as where its from and its characteristics. They will either swirl or smell the glass – sometimes both – before having a small taste. Then they will nod and move onto their next choice. If this is a food and wine event, they will sample a few of the appetizers.
The less educated and curious wine drinkers take a similar stance; they take a very methodical look around trying to figure out where to go first, or next. The approach the wines almost like a shark circling a diver in a cage, not quite sure what to make of it all and wanting to be sure before attacking.
Single people who are just there to mingle, well, you can spot them in a second. The only wines they care about have an attractive person of the opposite sex at the booth or table. They are also the most cunning of all the people at the event, for they are also using this first hour to probe which wineries are giving out the most generous pours. The information gained from this research will prove invaluable later.
• The second hour, the sophisticated and curious wine drinkers being loosen their grip on their standards, and start to hit more booths or tables. The “single and mingle” set have already determined which wineries pour the most and have set their targets for whom the will approach. They do not yet move in, however; they first let the alcohol do its job.
• By the third hour, everyone is on an equal social plane. The sophistication of the wine experts has slipped like a fake accent and they are now starting to mingle like it’s Spring Break. The alcohol is doing its job and this is when the “single and mingle” people move in on their targets.
• Wine festivals usually last four four hours, so this last hour is the most comical. People have spent $40, $50 or even $100 (if there’s food from local restaurants) to go to these events and they are determined to get what they perceive to be their money’s worth out of it. This is the time of most consumption. Forget what the wineries are pouring, they key is to get to the ones that are pouring the most! This is the by far most entertaining time of the event.
• Some wine festivals also have beer, and it’s usually the high-end brews. Stella Artois loves to pour at wine events, and they pour a 12-ounce challis. By the last hour these beer booths always have the biggest lines and the most party people.
Wine tasting events are similar but the venues are smaller – often just a room in a restaurant – and the time frame is much shorter, an hour or two as opposed to four hours.
But the approach is the same – start out slow and finish with a flurry.
That’s why I love wine tastings and festivals so much; no matter how they start out, they always end up in the same mental state of mind as how I arrived, and that is to party!
Here’s two good writeups on wine festivals: