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How to Survive a Grand Tasting

As daunting as it may seem, tasting from over 100 wineries per day has never been easier using the tips and tricks from WOPN’s own sommeliers on how to make it through the Grand Tastings.

How to Survive a Grand Tasting

No matter how much of a wine lover you might be, tasting from over 100 wineries per day could definitely make for a rough morning if you aren’t prepared. We asked some of our notable sommeliers, Robin Puricelli, Samantha Welch and Bonnie Graves, for tips and tricks to surviving a Grand Tasting. 

Robin Puricelli – Wine Director and Sommelier for Lido Restaurant & Lounge at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa

Samantha Welch – Blue Mango Restaurant Management

Bonnie Graves –  Founder, president and voice of Girl Meets Grape

Plan ahead

Robin: “Look at the layout of wineries and map out the top places you must visit. Plan your approach around the placement of each winery and floor map.”

Samantha: “Take a few minutes to strategize the room before you start tasting. Sure, seek the tables you know you love to check out their releases.  But this event is about discovery; for every label you know, pick 2 that you don’t know to check out!  You never know who your next favorite may be.”

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint 

Robin: “Drink lots of water and take advantage of the epic food served by the Bacara team.”

Samantha: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Seminars start early, and dinners go late. Spit and hydrate!  Don’t succumb to all night whiskey raging at the Rotunda Bar...make the experience last and get the most out of these producers all being in one place at one of the most magical locations in California!”

Bonnie: “Here's the math: a 750 mL bottle of wine has about 22 oz. of wine, which translates to about eleven 2 oz. tasting pours.  An average full glass of wine is 5 oz. so if you sample and swallow fifteen different wines, you've already had an entire bottle and a half of wine all by yourself.  Your liver is already not happy with you. Purchasing a tasting pass sometimes seems to bring out the glutton in people.  It's the same thing you see at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in which some folks pile up a whole pig's worth of bacon...just to get their money's worth.  That's not the point of WOPN folks. The point is to sample and search and socialize, to find a new region or a new young winemaker or an undiscovered treasure that you might never have otherwise discovered.”

Make the Spit Bucket Your New Best Friend

Robin: “I know it’s hard when you rarely taste certain wines, but you will still get as much affect from swishing and swirling in your palate and spitting it out. Pick and choose which you would like to fully enjoy so you don’t tire yourself out.”

Bonnie: “The answer is simply to spit. Yep, spit. You don't need to swallow every precious sip of Pinot Noir to enjoy the weekend.  I will never forget an intoxicated guest at last year's Los Angeles Food & Wine festival who staggered over and poured himself a generous pour...from the spit bucket. It was a scene out of "Sideways" and then some. Gross!”

“Sure enough, the same unfortunate fellow just seconds later did a stage-dive off some stairs and hit his head. Cue the paramedics, stop the fun. Wine is alcohol, no matter how pretty the packaging. If you wouldn't line up fifteen 2 oz. tequila shots and down them in quick succession, you shouldn't consume fifteen 2-ounce pours of wine either! Trust me, the spit cup is your best friend so learn to use it wisely.”

Lastly, have fun! 

Robin: “Don’t stress if you haven’t visited all of the places on your list, or every single winery rather. Maybe you got caught up in conversation with a winemaker and that was worth every second in the end.”

Bonnie: “Wine is an experience meant to be shared, and we look forward to sipping and searching and socializing with our Pinot pals from around the world at WOPN's 20th.  Your sommelier team is excited to share in your exploration of the grape.”

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