People are dressed up. Men somewhere between slacks/sport coats to suits and maybe a tux here and there.
Women in cocktail dresses. Wear comfortable shoes - there’s a lot of walking around.
Depends a bit. Some people bring 1 while others bring 6. Some do 750s while others large (or really large) format. There aren’t rules. You will walk around and offer wine so make sure to bring enough to do that. If you plan on staying late bring some more to open as the night goes on. I would also prioritize red over white. There isn’t a $$$ but people often trade in kind. Finally, most people coordinate with others at their table - if you are being seated randomly then this doesn’t apply.
Eat beforehand. The food is OK and often not enough / fast enough to combat the onslaught of wine. Also, bring electrolytes.
Yes. They are sat at various tables, often with other collectors they know or arranged for ahead of time.
Tables are very long, accommodating 40+ people each.
One thing I would add is a strong recommendation to bring a magnum or larger format- not 750ml bottles. You will quickly pour out your 750 and have nothing left to share. Also, if you can, this is one evening where splurging some will make it a better night. Have fun!
It really does depend on how you are planning to interact with others. Roughly, you will have about 20 pours or so to share. If you spend about 5 minutes per pour, that will last about 1.5-2 hours. Also, remember you are asking for two pours so consider that in your calculus.
If it was me and my wife, I’d bring at least 2 bottles of volume per person. That way you have enough to share with others and enough to last the evening. I think bringing more bottles and taking some home is better than wishing you brought more, so I would keep an extra 750 pp in a bag just in case.
As a person going by myself, I bring 1 white for the start of the night and 4 reds. At a similar party dinner over the weekend, a magnum and 2 750s for me was about enough to make it through the evening sharing but I lamented not having one more in my bag.
It really depends on how social you want to be. If you want to walk around and pour for people, Alex is absolutely correct. If you want to sit at the table and let things come to you, you can bring fewer bottles. Most people do not bring as many wines as Alex in my experience But I wish they did!
I would bring two magnums for the two of you. You will have more to share. The dinner is long and it gets really fun toward the end. It would be less cool to run out early. Also, it could really suck if you brought one and it was flawed. FWIW, the last time I went I brought one mag and one 750 and I thought the 750 was pretty useless. Gone in 15 minutes. The Gala dinner is quite pricey already and a special event. I would go the extra distance to make it more memorable.
I have a million questions about this but I’ll start with just one. How awkward is it to ask for or share a pour? Said another way, if I see a bottle that interests me, do you just ask the person to try it? Is there a scenario where they say no?
It tends to be very friendly. In general, the wines you pour will be for your table or the people you’re sitting next to (I’ve seen tables kind of split down the middle and not share as much), and then you can wander around with what’s left. It’s pretty dynamic - people don’t tend to sit with 3 open bottles because the somms bring them out over time.
Pouring for other people - just offer them a pour and most often they’ll say yes (or sometimes pass if they have no available glasses).
Oh, one thing I’ve found very helpful - bring your own stems.
To add to the above, each long table will have a couple of dedicated somms who will grab the wines when you enter, and follow your instructions regarding when to bring them out. Often folks who bring both red and white will start with the whites and move on, but it’s up to you.
The first year I went I was seated randomly, and mostly shared wines with those in my immediate area. Some large bottles came up from further down the table, and I was fine bringing my wines back down in that direction…no need to canvas the room other than to take in the scene and feel jealous of trophies you’ll see on other tables. There will be at least a couple of winemakers at each table sharing as well, definitely worthwhile meeting them and hearing their stories. Many folks will have friends throughout the room and seem to be on a constant stroll, and my neighbors had several visitors bringing nice wines that they often shared. Agree bringing a couple of mags would make for a nice evening.
Wish I could make it this year, but a golf trip was long-planned…