I’ll be going to my first trade tasting soon. What tips would you give to a person who has never been to a trade tasting?
Take a toothbrush. If it’s 30-40+ wines and lots of snacks, you’ll be thankful you have it.
Spit. Every wine. Some trade tastings have 100+ wines.
Eat something solid beforehand. Even spitting everything, you will dehydrate and fatigue faster than you think.
If you can bring your own relatively neutral water (whatever is neutral to you), do that. Oftentimes the water at tastings could be a tasting distraction.
If you know what wineries are being featured, do some research and build a tasting plan. Some people want to taste by category, some want to only taste certain producers.
If there is anything being featured that is something of a rarity, other tasters WILL go there first and the samples will be depleted early.
Decide if you are going to take notes or if you are going there to network. Both are valid reasons but I never had any success trying to do both at the same tasting.
Bring your business cards. Get business cards from everyone. The booze industry is very network-intensive. Your career will grow more easily if you have contacts in lots of different sectors.
If it’s a busy table, don’t bogart the tasting position. Take a pour and step aside so others can get in.
Learn how to juggle!
Please don’t wear anything scented: cologne, deodorant, etc. Seems pretty obvious, but I’ve tasted with producers and reps that went too heavy on perfume before. Also, I find carrying your own spit cup a helpful way to avoid hogging the table, but communal spit buckets might have been phased out with the pandemic anyway. I also like carrying a small notebook with a hard cover to take notes while standing and a good pen or pencil. Like I said, learn to juggle.
Suzy, I didn’t know you knew how to juggle, too! What a talented lady…
When it’s over, go home and have a glass of Champagne. Very restorative.
Don’t puke in the dump bucket.
If there are wines you might buy plan to be able to re taste those, and in different order from first time round; don’t look at previous notes. Compare afterwards. Make purchase decisions next day.
Unless the alternative is worse….
Great advice. On the old KL buying trips, most of the guys would have a beer or two at night to cleanse their palates. I’ve never liked beer at all, so always went for a glass of Champagne, which really helped clear my palate.
Yes, lots of people drink beer to cleanse palate. I like it but like Champagne much more. Beer can be great after working hard in a winery, Champagne is a much better palate cleanser to me. For me, beer also seems to act more more like a carb than Champagne.
Make yourself take some kind of note on every wine you taste, even if it’s brief. It’s really easy to lose focus otherwise. You’ll get better at evaluating large numbers of wine by keeping that focus and training yourself. Drink water, not wine.
Yes, definitely write notes. Even if you don’t read them later, it forces you to pay attention.
Underrated comment. 100% on board with this one. Nothing is more frustrating when a wasted Karen hogs the entire table with her friends.
My tip: make sure you have plenty of seltzer. Seltzer is my go-to palette cleanser. It really helps with fatigue.
Acid softens the enamel on your teeth. Even from eating a normal meal, you should avoid brushing for about a half hour (the time it typically takes your saliva to bring things back to normal) or the brush can damage the enamel. Bad practice that adds up.
An undisclosed person who goes to my dentist is a wine writer who judges a lot of competitions and was having issues. The advice my hygenist gave me was to use ACT mouthwash after tasting. Make sure it’s the original alcohol-free version. It buffers the acid, restoring your pH balance. The taste is mild (not gimmicky strong). Swish thoroughly, spit, do not rinse with water. A couple minutes later there will be no lingering taste.
Pronamel is a good toothpaste brand. Good for people tasting a lot of wine, drinking coffee or tea, or eating a lot of acidic food. Same sort of effectiveness instead of mimmickry. One you realize you can be tasting wine and/or eating breakfast or whatever a couple minutes after brushing, with no lingering effect, you won’t go back.
I once went to a trade tasting for Riesling and Champagne. My teeth hurt bad for about 4 days afterward. I think if I had brushed them right then they might have dissolved.