So you’ve seen, swirled, smelled, and sipped some wines and decided you want to continue to expand your palate. All of those avowed and acknowledged experts are presented with numerous incredible opportunities to sample fine wines and you want to get in on that action. Well with relatively little clout or expertise you too can sample fine wines from around the world – for FREE! There is so much wine in the market and so many producers trying to get so many wholesalers to carry their product that they offer incentives to their retailers and restaurants to pour that wine all willy nilly so that your mouth will water (or wine, maybe whine?) for more and be willing to pay for it. This is the best time in the history of wine to be a new wine aficionado. Producers have crops literally backing up against the previous year’s harvest so they need to create more and quicker demand in the market. I’m not talking about wine expos where the ticket price is usually so steep that everyone gets drunk in order to get their money’s worth. Even the smallest package stores are offering free tastings these days. The 21st Amendment, the one that repealed Prohibition, made provisions for sampling, specifically to further sales. In Massachusetts (where I live) a retailer can offer free samples, but not exceed a total maximum of 5 oz. So where does one find out where these tastings are being offered? Several resources are available at your fingertips.
LocalWineEvents.com is a great website started by Eric Orange, a certified sommelier and Master of Wine with over 20 years experience. Not only do they list wine events in major markets throughout the United States but they also offer great resources like wine & food apps, blogs, and a newsletter called The Juice that lists all of the events in your area. It’s searchable by price, category, date, etc.
Another great site, Able Grape , a wine information search engine. Your own wine Google! Founded by Doug Cook his aim is to educate and make the largest aggregated resource available to anyone seeking wine information.
Of course there are also listings for free wine tastings anywhere you may find restaurant or wine shop advertising – regional magazines and newspapers, local tourism websites (i.e. VisitNewEngland.com , Greater Merrimack Valley CVB), WhoFish (local coupons and events listings), Groupon, etc.
Take advantage of as many opportunities as available to you. You get a chance to try before you buy and it lets you practice your skills and develop your palate. You might find your next favorite wine, or you may find something you definitely decide you don’t like (I haven’t yet). Also, the people pouring the wines often do in fact know something about them and it’s a good environment to ask questions. Get out there and get tasting!