Zoom wine tastings – they really do work!

On Monday I took part in a wine tasting and met 7 different winemakers from Chile. Pretty standard fare you might imagine, but this one was conducted entirely on Zoom.

It was a remarkable success, not least because the technology worked (more or less) perfectly, but because it allowed the organiser, Wines of Chile, to bring real value to both their producers and to the audience.

How did it work? Well, a couple of days before the tasting, a box with 15 small sample bottled arrived at my house, each labelled up with the wine name and looking very professional, even exciting. On the same day a package arrived with tasting sheets, product information and some maps of the Chilean wine region. Boy do I love a wine map. So, when it came to logging in for the tasting, I had not only prepared the wines, but I had also looked at the pre-read information…I was ready and really quite engaged in the whole process.

The fact that the wines were in good condition (although there were murmurings of some VA on one wine) was, in a way, secondary to the key outcome which was that I learnt a lot about the regions and was able to understand the progress that Chile has made in terms of its diversity and ambition in the past few years. Although the session was expertly guided by Alistair Cooper MW, I wanted even more from the winemakers – to hear their stories and gain an insight into what makes their wines special.

But this was a generic tasting and naturally you have to cover a lot of ground in these things, so it’s understandable that we weren’t able to go into too much detail. The tasting was excellent and I hardly dare say that I somehow felt I might have actually learnt more with it being conducted over zoom than I might have done in a room with lots of people and many distractions.

As a pure exercise in learning it was top class and, as someone who readily admits a short attention span, I was engaged for the whole 1 hour 45 minutes. Well done Wines of Chile, well done Zoom! And well done the wine industry for engaging with technology so impressively. How were the wines? Oh, they were excellent, diverse and in places extremely intriguing.

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