Last Thursday, I went to the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s infamous tasting event, where I had the opportunity to try wines from 163 wineries around the world. With France being the host country, the French vibes were in the air with a considerable amount of French wineries, as well as an Eiffel Tower light display (shown in the image above). In addition to the wineries, there were regional tasting stations for wine on tap from FreshTAP and #RoséAllDay, plus lots of delicious food pairings like gelato from D’oro Gelato e Caffè and what my friend called a “sexy ham” display from ARC Iberico Import (see the video).
This was a really fun event where I got to enhance my wine knowledge from sommeliers, explore different wines, and test how good my palate was at sensing the flavours in wine. In addition, I immersed myself in the wine experience by wearing an outfit inspired by a glass of red wine (shown on the right).
Although I got to try a variety of wines, I found I still prefer wines that have a smoother body with sweet and fruity notes. Like many people with a young palate, I don't like wines that have sour notes, crisp textures, and high acidity. Some of my favourite wines from the event were Gancia Rosé Brut and Cedar Creek Riesling (shown below). What was special about the VIWF tasting event was that there were exclusive wines for sale at the event that aren’t available locally, so it was a great opportunity to get my hands on a couple of great wines.
This being my first big wine tasting event, it was challenging to get through 163 wineries within 3 hours. Overall, I was only able to get to less than 1/5th of the wineries because of the time limit and the fact I didn’t want to get drunk too fast, which is really easy to do at these events. From my experience at VIWF, I have some tips to help you make the most out of your next tasting event:
1. Read the program before the event.
It can be overwhelming at these events to pick which wineries to try since you want to try as many as possible and still take the time to enjoy each wine. I would suggest checking out the program or brochure before the event to see which wineries will be there and make a list of all the wineries you’re most interested in trying. Basically, this is your game plan so you give your attention and time to what matters most. It’s easy to get distracted by cool looking wines and displays (like I did). So, having a game plan is essential to making the most out of your experience.
2. Use the Spit Bucket.
In many cases with food and drinks, wasting can be seen as disrespectful and rude. At wine tastings, you DO NOT have to drink all the wine that the winery reps give you. If you don’t like it, pour or spit out the wine in the random bucket on your table, aka. The Spit Bucket. Some wine connoisseurs and sommeliers pride themselves on the practice of swishing wine in their mouth, then spitting it in the bucket – the reason why spit buckets exist. Personally, I prefer to take a small sip and swallow the wine to skip the embarrassment of spitting in a bucket in public. Either way is appropriate in wine culture. Just remember, it’s okay to waste the wine you don’t like so you can save yourself for the wine you really like.
3. Pace Yourself.
Don’t rush your experience, enjoy it. Know that you won’t get to try every wine from the 163 wineries, so take your time when you’re tasting each wine. It’s easy to try out a couple of wineries and then realize you’re drunker then you had intended to be. So, take a break to eat and check out the non-wine booths. I got a wine yolk from the Delta Airlines booth, which was super useful. It was a carrier for the wine glass and freed up my hands for taking photos and eating. It was definitely one of my favourite souvenirs from this event. Doing step #1 and 2 will help you with this step.
4. Try Something New!
Get out of your comfort zone and try wines and wineries you wouldn’t normally try. At VIWF, there were the typical chardonnays and pinot noirs, and there were wines I’ve never heard of like Semillon, Gewürztraminer, and Petit Petit. This is your opportunity to discover new wines and stock up on wines that aren’t widely available, so don’t miss out.
If you got a chance to go to VIWF, let me know in the comments what you most enjoyed about it. If you didn’t get to go, VIWF will be happening again to February 20, 2021 to February 28, 2021, featuring wines from South America including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.
Thanks for reading about the highlights of the Vancouver International Festival and my tips for tasting events. Cheers!