How to Host a Digital Tasting
Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine 20-50 people gathering from across the country to share a glass of wine via Zoom. The idea of digital tastings existed, but on the fringes. Wine and spirits are social vessels, and most people preferred to share a glass face to face. So when the pandemic stripped social gatherings away from daily life, colleagues and friends were hungry for a way to share the happy hour experience online. This article breaks down how to host a digital tasting to make the online experience just as awesome (or better) than the in-person version.
What is a Digital Tasting
A virtual or Digital Tastings is the shared experience of exploring the same or similar wines or spirits between a group online, often in a guided format. The key difference between a digital tasting and a digital happy hour is that the highlight of the meeting is the beverage. A happy hour may include a drink, but the topic could bounce around. By featuring the same wine flight for the entire group, the tasting has direction that makes it easy to bond; the group is sharing something, even though they may be miles apart.
Why Should I Host a Digital Tasting
Digital Tastings are cost-effective
Most industry experts agree that the digital tasting experience is here to stay, in part because it’s exceptionally cost-efficient compared to an in-person gathering. Rather than paying for travel and accommodation, friends from all over the country can connect from their own homes.
It’s a good ice breaker.
Many people still feel a barrier when communicating online. By sharing the experience, there’s a common topic from which to launch. Get people talking with questions like, “How do you feel about this wine?”
You can learn more about wine or spirits!
When you have an expert guide the tasting, you can know more about what you’re drinking and all of the jargon that makes you a better taster. Even if you opt-out of hiring an expert, it’s a fun way to explore your taste with friends.
How to Host a Digital Tasting
Pick a theme
Your theme might revolve around a specific wine region, wine/food pairings, or learning to make a cocktail. Palate Club offers a unique tasting experience with a Blind Tasting Kit of four half bottles wrapped for blind tasting. When you rate all four in the app, you get a unique palate profile with recommendations to your taste!
Choose your wines
The fun part! Set your budget and find drinks that match your theme. Note that if you live in the USA and you’re shipping to multiple states, it may be trickier than you’d expect to get everyone the same bottles. Look for wine companies that ship from one main warehouse or choose similar wines instead of the replica. It’s good to plan for 4-6 wines for a tasting (Repour is a great tool to save your wine if you don’t want to waste it!).
Invite your guests.
Your invitees will make or break the gathering! For corporate tastings, you may wish to have one or two internal hosts that can keep the team engaged, even if you’re working with a wine expert. Give ample time for your guests to order their wines, or choose to ship yourself at least two weeks before the event.
If your guests are buying wine for themselves, set a deadline of at least two weeks before the event (there will always be people who order afterward, but this window allows for time to adjust any late or broken packages). Keep them excited about the event by including teasers one week before, one day before, and one hour before the tasting. Always have the meeting link!
Learn the lingo
Practice some vocabulary around your tasting before you join. A digital tasting is fabulous practice to finding tannin, acidity, and aroma. The conversation gets a whole lot more lively if you or whoever is hosting can speak a bit about what’s in the glass!
Prep your wines
Get your white wines chilled, glasses at the ready, and snacks plated up and ready to go. Other than sparkling, you can usually open your bottles an hour or two before the event—even longer if it’s a young red wine. Give the wines a taste to make sure they’re healthy. If you detect a wet cardboard smell, the wine, unfortunately, might be corked.
Relax & Enjoy!
Digital tastings can last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. Fill in the gaps between sips by asking questions about wine or cocktails, calling on the group to list off what they smell, and openly discuss your favorites. Wine helps open people up, so it’s okay if the conversation steers to an off-beat anecdote here and there. Just one note to the wise: if the tasting lands in the middle of the day, you may want to encourage the use of a spit cup!
Digital tastings are here to stay as a fun and cost-effective way to get a group together. Pick a theme and try to get the same or similar wines to everyone, so there’s more connection on the topic. Get ready to learn more about wine, your taste, and likely some of the members in your group! Ready to book a tasting? Palate Club makes it easy to arrange one with the Blind Tasting Kit! Contact [email protected].