The Futility of Virtual Wine Tastings

Prior to COVID-19 life for a wine writer in Toronto was a busy one. Wine shows, tutored tastings, lunches and dinners with winemakers and trips abroad.

First let me dispel a myth that all these events are a glorious fun filled romp. Not so. It takes time to get to and from your destination. You have to be sharp and alert during your tastings if you plan to report your findings to your readers. Media trips to Europe are exhausting particularly for North Americans having to deal with jet lag. Add on big lunches and dinner with producers dangling wines for you to try and then visiting wine producers from 9-6 trying upwards of 40 wines a day. And since its not a good idea to swallow (except of course for an 1867 Port) extra concentration is required to evaluate the wine.

No I am not complaining. All these events add layers of appreciation and education not only for the wines but for those who make them and the terroir in which they are grown. The key factor is there is real wine in a real glass that you are tasting. You look at it, you smell it and you swirl it around in your mouth and spit it out.

In today’s COVID-19 world my sum total of winery visits has been two in Niagara one being Flat Rock Cellars which is one of my favourite Niagara producers and another winery I’d rather not say as I had the worst possible glass of Viognier there.

Many government consulates here in Toronto have simply given up hosting events as how can they! However of late I am seeing a growing trend for virtual wine tastings. That is a great idea if you have the wine that is being tasted in your glass. Frankly I find it boring and a waste of time to attend these virtual wine tastings. I mean how can you buy a car virtually without test driving it. In my world it has only been the Chileans who supplied wine to the invited wine writers attending the virtual tastings. I received an invitation this week to attend a New Zealand wine virtual tasting. I will not be attending and have no regrets about that. Remember that 1957-63 American television show, “Have Gun-Will Travel”. In my case it is “have wine will then taste virtually”!

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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