A wine tasting can take on various forms. It can be an elaborate dinner of three or more courses with a winemaker flown in from Bordeaux/Napa/Barossa to talk about the most recent vintages of their latest, greatest, impossible-to-afford cult classic that you never heard of before you spent $150.00 for your ticket to this event. You can go to a class, sit down in front of a paper placemat where six glasses sit atop six labeled circles and the guy next to you whispers sweet tasting notes in your ear the whole time (whether you want him to or not) because he knows it all. Or you can go to your local wine retailer on a Friday or Saturday evening between 4:00 and 8:00 pm and see who's standing there with plastic cups and open bottles - these latter incarnations of the wine tasting are free.
Now, you know I would not be your favorite wine snob if I didn't plug my own wine group, Women for WineSense, and mention the fact that they hold tastings all year long in 15 chapters nationwide (including NYC) and that most of these events cost less than $50.00 a ticket. (The New York City chapter is charging less than $40.00 for all of its 2009 events - the next one is February 24th at Moore Brothers Wine Company) But here's my point: for $40 you can either buy yourself 3-5 bottles of deliciously inexpensive vino to enjoy in the privacy of your own home while you wait for responses to the 50 resumes you sent out to Craigslist postings this month, or you can take that $40, and GO TO A TASTING EVENT NEAR YOU!
Because we all know it aint what you know, its who you know, and who you know right now is not helping you find whatever opportunity you are looking for, so it might behoove you to go meet some new people. Tastings at this price tend to be more informal events, where you mingle and chat while you sample various wines. The other great thing about these tastings is that you will probably either
a. taste more wine than you could have bought with the money you spent on your ticket or
b. taste more expensive wine than you could have bought with the money you spent for your ticket
OR (this thought makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside) BOTH!
Plus, you can spend time chatting and mingling, talking about what makes you so great and what you're looking for out of life this year, and who knows? You might meet your next employer/investor/friend/date. Imagine that? Meeting someone through networking! Who'd uh thunk it??
OK. Let's review:
Wine dinners are great, but probably too expensive for many.
Classroom style tastings can vary in price, but are not generally conducive to mingling and networking.
In store tastings are good if you happen to be in the store at the time by chance, but I wouldn't mark these on my calendar.
Informal tastings - especially Women for WineSense ones - are just what the doctor ordered in these here times.
Tip of the week:
When buying inexpensive wines, I like to employ a few tactics to make sure I get the most for my dollar, because even a small amount of money spent on bad wine is wasted!
1. White wines under $20 a bottle, especially those under $10, should be from a vintage within the last two or so years - steer clear of anything in this price range that is older than 2007. They tend to lose their acidity and fruit, and are probably that cheap because the distributor and retailer want to get rid of them to make way for a more recent (possibly more expensive) vintage.
2. My best experiences with reds under $10 have been with wines from Southern France - (AOC Languedoc and Vins de Pays), California Cabernets and Australian and South African Shiraz. You can find surprisingly pleasing wines under $10 in these categories, but understand that they are likely to be straightforward, possibly slightly unbalanced wines, because you are getting what you are paying for. Still, they aren't bad in most cases.
3. Leave that Beaujolais Nouveau alone! At this time of year (February) it aint Nouveau anymore!
4. Pinot Noir below $20 is average at best. Don't do it to yourself!