How To Taste 1200 Wines in 2 Days
I got my invitation in the mail today for August’s Family Winemakers of California Tasting. Based on the preliminary list of wineries that have committed to pouring at the event, it appears there will be upwards of 400 California wineries at Fort Mason in San Francisco on August 20 and 21. Most of them will be relatively small wineries too.
The question for anyone going to this event is how to attack it. After all, we are talking about a tasting that will present at least 1200 different wines…and that’s a conservative estimate.
When you have a tasting of around 100 wineries at a tasting you really don’t need a plan. It’s manageable enough to jump in with your glass and guide and go at it. Four hundred wineries is a different animal all together. If you spent five minutes with each winery you’d have to spend more than 33 hours at the tasting…and that doesn’t count time for a bathroom break, eating, or conversing with others. You have to pick your wineries when you head out to something like this.
So I have an idea for Family Winemakers to make everyone’s lives easier on August 20 and 21.
Provide us with a directory of wineries that identifies certain unique qualities of each winery.
In the past, Family Winemakers has provided a "Varietal Guide" to the wineries. That’s helpful. If you just wanted to taste Viognier you could consult the Guide and head out. But with 400 wineries, offering more alternative with which to organize our pursuit of sips makes a lot of sense.
Varietal sorting, while obvious and useful, is hardly the only viable criteria by which to organize 400 wineries. Rather, I’d like to see Family Winemakers provide a guide to this tasting that provides a number of different categorization schemes that could make the tasting have a great deal more meaning for people. For example, the Guide to the Family Winemakers of California Annual Tasting should categorize wineries by:
-SIZE (cases produced)
-PRODUCERS OF WINE FROM MOUNTAIN FRUIT
-BY AVERAGE ALCOHOL LEVEL
-THOSE MAKING UNOAKED WINES
-PRODUCERS OF "OLD VINE" WINES
-PRODUCERS POURING WINES OLDER THAN FIVE YEARS
I realize that "discovery" is one of the enchanting elements of walking down an aisle of 200 different wineries. But with 400 wineries at your disposal the opportunity to hone in on particular types of wines is great. It might also make the tasting a far more interesting affair.