Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who Goes to Grand Tastings? You, That's Who!

Grand tastings, like this one in Spain, are the granddaddy of grape events. Photo by Robert McIntosh.


astounds me the number of times people say, "Oh-la-la, how chic!” or "That’s too sophisticated for someone like me!" whenever I mention that I'm going to a Grand Tasting.

Of course, we laugh. Of course, I play it off. But the comments linger in my head. Then it dawned on me: numerous articles detail what to do at wine tastings, but few describe the type of people who go.

Who goes to Grand Wine Tastings?
Grab a few friends and look in the mirror. Grand Tastings, showcases for 20 to 200-plus producers, are for people who enjoy wines, people who want to learn about wines, people who make wines, people who market wines, people who distribute wines, people who write about wine events, people who photograph wines, and people who have no interest in wine but get dragged along by people who do. Chances are, you and the people you know fit into one of these categories. So go!

What to wear?
Clothes. And beyond that, who cares? In general, the best-dressed people are the ones with the highest stakes in the game: producers of the wine event, international winery representatives looking to impress distributors, and distributors looking to connect with retailers. A diverse and often international group, the wine reps and distributors look as if they jumped fresh from the pages of “Italian Vogue” ( down to the tie-color coordination and dangerous stilettos. These fashionable lovelies are the ones who add caché to any wine event.

The best dressed at Grand Tastings are the ones with higher stakes and a keen sense of style. Photo from Wolfie Wolf.

Bless their little hearts, we so don’t have to worry about that. The people pouring the wines are either the winemakers themselves or their local wine reps, usually in casual attire. Bringing up the rear in the fashion spectrum is media: photographers and wine writers.

Both groups know how little their own look matters to the success of the event. Both groups tend not to take themselves too seriously. Writers, however, do make a passing attempt at being fashionable, cognizant that for this working day, we might actually be seen! Ducking out from behind the home office, we retire the PJ’s and flip-flops for a day.

Photographers, the masters of the visual, typically display a shocking inattention to their own attire, often saying that they prefer to retreat into the background. OK, fine. But really, is all black from head-to-toe unobtrusive on a lovely summer day? Or what about the jeans-and-sneakers go with anything mantra? I single out my photographer brothers and sisters because, of course, as media, I am preaching to the choir. We both remain guilty of a major fashion faux pas. Read on for more on that.

FOOT SOLDIERS: Trade and media on break during the Slow Wine/VinItaly Grand Tasting in the SoHo section of New York earlier this month. Photo by Tamara Fish.

What to wear, Pt 2: Shoes
There are two schools of thought on shoes. The first is comfort above all else. Considering that the event organizers will maximize the greatest amount of space for wine displays, seating will be kept to a minimum. The idea is to walk around a lot. Walking and standing for hours at a time lends itself to comfortable shoes. It’s hard enough to nail the perfect shot or find the perfect word. Who wants to hear the perfect curses hurled by his or her screaming feet at the same time? Shoddy but comfortable feet? Chances are they belong to a photographer or writer.

The second school of thought is the fashionista’s mantra via Billy Crystal channeling Fernando Lamas: “It is much better to look good than to feel good.” On more than one occasion, I have caught fellow media glancing at the perfectly composed and elegant fashionistas, and wondering how in the hell they pull it off. Remarkable, their eyes say, in a “better-you-than-me” sort of way.

Most at Grand Tastings dress in what best suits, at least it is hoped that they do. Photo from Wolfie Wolf.

That’s where everybody else comes in. Much like the art of wine itself where the goal is to drink what you like, similarly wear what you like at Grand Tastings. If wearing flats evokes hives, then wear heels, but be forewarned. If a jacket, no matter how well cut, always feels like a straightjacket, then leave it at home.

There is only one caveat: Avoid colognes, perfumes, aftershave, scented lotions, or strong deodorants. That lavender hue detected in the Pinot is probably someone’s wrist coming close to the nose. Let the wine speak for itself.

That, and spit. A lot. Without the barest hint of shame. Need more convincing? Read a previous Grape: Wine Talk about how to emerge from Grand Tastings with your sobriety intact:

DIZZY SPELLS: Grand Tastings boast a wide array of wines for those who show. Photo from Longhorn Dave.

So go! Following are some upcoming wine tastings around the world:
1-2 March: The Thirteenth Annual World of Pinot Noir,, Shell Beach, CA
1-3 March: The New York Wine Expo,, New York

Exclusively for VEVLYN’S PEN readers/followers: Use the use the promo code: VINO for $15 off Friday and Saturday admissions.
1-17 March: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival,, Melbourne
14-17 March 14-17: Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival,, Cancun
19-20 April: A Taste of Flight Wine Expo,, Garden City, NY.

NOTE: A portion of ticket sales from A Taste of Fight Wine Expo will benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Fund Breast Cancer Research Fund,

Visit Gayot and Local Wine Events Local Wine Events to find wine tastings in your area. Rx

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at .