Try to pick a favourite

Attending a wine tasting is not all fun and games. Sure, on the surface it seems like a blast, but there is a lot to think about. First, and most importantly, how can you possibly get through 70 wines in 4-6 hours? The answer? You can’t (well, I cannot). By hour 5, I’m seriously dehydrated and worried about my tooth enamel. Also of concern is how will you remember them? Can you really taste the difference between all of these? And, what about having to spit wine out in front of others (or spit wine at all)? Eek.

So it’s best to make a plan, strategize, bring your laptop (and power cord!) and think about how you can maximize your experience to try many wines in such a short time. I’ve attended a few of these tastings before, and while I have a few go-to tactics, I’m still honing my game. (Also, as a sidenote, drinking a TON of water is extremely helpful.)

This most recent tasting, on Superbowl Sunday, was hosted by Natalie MacLean. Our team of tasters include sommeliers, educators and other experts in the Ottawa wine community. It’s not only a great opportunity to taste many wines, but also a chance to learn from some pros and contribute our reviews to a massive online community which can help inform others. The goal of our last few tastings have been trying to identify great value wines that are available readily.

My time that day was short so I arrived early knowing I would have to leave early, and therefore needed to make the most of the day. Given it’s currently the absolute dead of winter right now, I decided to focus on red wine on this particular day. Sure, white wine is great, but I am more interested currently in wine I could pair with roastbeef, or maybe short ribs, rather than caprese salad while sitting on a patio.

A couple of favourites for the day (there were a few):

A side note to this Louis M Martini, I tried it next to another Louis M Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2011 which was from Napa. While the differences were subtle, I gave the slight edge personally to the Sonoma County wine for having a bit of an interesting caramel note, while the Napa was more typical (yet tasty – definitely not a negative attribute!) with notes of mint and green pepper along with the fruit flavours. From a value perspective, the Sonoma was also a great under $20 find!

As a proud and patriotic Canadian gal, I’m always happy to try any wine from our great country. I also think that winemakers in Canada must possess some magic up their sleeves, judging by our last couple of winters. This is a delicious Baco Noir, rich, spicy, and would be great with nice cold weather dishes, or even just on its own.

One of the benefits of being able to attend such an event is to try many different wines. On your own, you’re limited by budget, as well as the risk of potential liver damage, or the personal shame of letting wine go bad.  In a group setting, you’re learning from others, as well as trying what some of their favourites are as well. It’s collaborative, social, and informative. Also, it’s great to arm yourself with additional knowledge when shopping for wine for your next occasion, be it Friday night, or your next Superbowl party.