Guided Tastings and Seminars

Wine isn’t just a beverage. It’s a way of viewing the world— a living, breathing piece of history and tradition, which reflects the identity of the people and places in which it’s made. 

Rather than offer a conventional approach to regions, grapes, and vintages, my tastings and seminars are designed to answer the question of why wine matters: who produced it, why it’s unique, what it has to say. This could mean exploring the native Spanish grapes that have lately staged a surprise comeback after nearly vanishing under Franco’s rule, or the latest wave of wines from the fringes of Eastern Europe. Maybe you’re curious what “natural” or “biodynamic” wine might be, and how it differs from the more conventional bottles stacked up on the shelves of your local grocery store. 

No matter the topic, I work with a wide range of clients— from individuals and corporations to charities, universities, and cultural institutions— to help unlock the stories “behind the bottle,” offering an in-depth look at the rebels, eccentrics, visionaries, and fierce traditionalists who are currently shaping the contours of today’s ever-evolving wine world. 


Sample topics

(which can be adjusted to individual or group formats, including wine-themed dinners):


Beyond the Point Scores:
How to Impress Your Clients:

Anyone with a “black card” can scan a restaurant wine list, google the Robert Parker scores, and drop thousands of dollars on the standard critically-acclaimed bottle of cult Napa cab or first-growth Bordeaux. But can you have an actual conversation with your clients about the wine you’ve chosen, where it came from, and what makes it unique? This seminar imparts the skills you’ll need to order wine confidently in a business setting, with special emphasis upon looking past the obvious choices to find that truly special bottle. 

The Alternative (Surprisingly Affordable)
“Fine Wine” Canon
:

“Greatness” in wine used to mean a specific thing: the standard lineup of French and California classics (i.e., Napa Cab, Burgundy, Bordeaux). Unfortunately, most of these wines have priced themselves beyond the reach of mere mortals. Recently, however, an alternative "fine wine" canon has begun to emerge. Beloved by sommeliers and industry insiders, these age-worthy, world-class wines haven’t yet entered the mainstream, and therefore remain (at least, for now) extremely affordable. We’ll taste through a cross-section of examples, offering the chance to taste (and even start collecting) the “trophy wines” of the future today.   

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Introduction to the New
Wine Counterculture:

This tasting offers a “cliff notes” guide to the avant-garde categories that have recently emerged in reaction to the wine world’s mass-produced mainstream. We’ll cover the “natural” wine movement, rediscover previously neglected regions and grapes, highlight the “alternative” side of classic areas like Champagne and Bordeaux, and explore the pre-industrial styles (i.e., skin-fermented “orange wine” or cloudy “col fondo” Prosecco) that have developed a cult following among the wine world’s countercultural fringe. 

What is Terroir? 

To the most fanatical drinkers, what separates a merely good wine from a truly great one is its ability to communicate what they might call a “sense of place.” The French (who else?) have coined a term for this quasi-mystical notion that a wine’s ultimate goal isn’t simply to taste good, but to reflect the cultural identity of the soil in which it’s grown. But what does this really mean? How can fermented grape juice articulate the soul of a region, its people, and their traditions? In this guided tasting, we’ll find out firsthand what makes a wine taste like it comes from “somewhere” rather than “anywhere.” 


Private Buying &
Tailored Services

 

Beverage Program
Consulting