Blinded By The Cab . . . or Merlot . . . . or Pinot . . .or Chardonnay . . .


I attend dozens of wine tastings each year, featuring all different types of wines. Most of the events I attend where my wine is being poured feature domestic wines, sometimes from a specific region and sometimes featuring certain varieties.

Most of the time, those in attendance seem to be pretty knowledgeable and ‘open’ about trying what I have to offer, but not always.

I poured at an event recently where at least a dozen people came up, looked at the bottles that I had on display, and then asked whether I had a cabernet sauvignon, or perhaps a merlot, or maybe a pinot. In all three cases, I said I did not, that I did not produce those varieties, but that I had a number of other wines that they may want to try.

In every case, they said thanks but no thanks and walked away. I was able to ‘grab’ a few before moving on and asked if they might be interested in trying the syrahs, grenaches, etc. that I was pouring.  No thank you, I was told over and over, I don’t know what those are.

It’s certainly easy to get overwhelmed at wine tastings, especially tasting where there are dozens of wineries pouring north of 100 wines or more in total. And I can certainly respect those that are ‘on a mission’, only searching out specific varieties or regions to compare and contrast all that are there.

In the cases I mentioned, though, it had more to do with ‘familiarity’ than it did to a specific tasting ‘strategy’. It surprised me quite a bit, because I look at wine tastings as an opportunity to not only reinforce what I believe I like, but to ‘challenge’ myself by trying those things I don’t ‘think’ I’ll like, based on previous experiences with a specific producer, a variety, or a region. To me, that’s one of my favorite parts of a tasting.

What kinds of strategies do you employ at larger wine tastings that may have dozens of producers or more and that you might find 100+ wines at? I’ll be awaiting your replies (-:

8 comments on “Blinded By The Cab . . . or Merlot . . . . or Pinot . . .or Chardonnay . . .

  1. stephanie says:

    For everyone who doesn’t try something new or different, think of the ones who do. We who love, make or pour wine get to educate and expose people to new flavors everyday. I embrace the challenge to get people to try the one wine they say they don’t want to. I feel justified when that’s the one they buy.

  2. Dave Simpson says:

    I will always “Try” varietals that I am not familiar with. I may not like them, but I am open-minded enough to find little gems. Tannat was one that I discovered that I really like. Too many people only have a comfort level for the tried and true. The look at the other varietals and just say, “Blender”!

  3. That’s looking at things with a ‘glass half full’ attitude 🙂 I certainly think the same way, but also want to ‘push’ those others into getting out of their ‘stereotypes’ and to try something they either knowingly ‘don’t like’ or something they have not tried yet . . .

  4. Dave,

    Me thinks you’re a bit more adventurous than the ‘average wine consumer’. When I go to tastings, I often seek out the varieties I think I DON’T like to either reinforce or change my opinions about that them. Too often, we base opinions on too few a pool of samples to really be able to say with certainty about our likes and dislikes. At least, that’s MY opinion 🙂

  5. Matt Mauldin says:

    Isn’t it funny how some folks at a wine tasting act like they’re making a decision on which car to buy?? I always relate what I have at the table to the varietals they’re looking for- “If you like Chardonnay you’ll like the Roussanne” or “If you like Pinot you’ll like the Z Cuvee” or “If you like Cabs or big reds you’ll love the Mesa Reserve Syrah”. It works more often than not…

  6. Matt,

    Logically stated, indeed! Yep, I try to do the same thing – though many times once they hear you don’t have exactly what they’re looking for, they wrinkle their noses and move on. I don’t fret about it – I just blog about it instead 🙂 Cheers!

  7. Scott Lagrotteria says:

    Part of the problem is that “People don’t know what they don’t know” and are intimidated by the many variations of wines. You can’t educate everyone and you can’t solve their issues with just a tasting. I generally find people more open to trying the unknown in more intimate tasting settings without big crowds.

  8. Scott,

    Great points indeed. The ‘nice’ thing about a big tasting, though, is that they’ve already paid their price of admission, so there is no monetary ‘risk’ with trying new things. Just another way of looking at the issue . . .

    But you are correct – and I try to minimize that ‘intimidation’ factor by letting folks know that if they don’t like it, they can simply spit it out and dump the rest of what’s left in their glass – neither I nor anyone else should feel offended by this.

    Thanks for sharing!

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