What does an e-Tasting involve and what’s it like?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, people have had to comply with social distancing and, as such, have missed the fun of wine tasting events for a while. Recently, wine merchants have come up with creative ideas to keep drinkers occupied including online tastings. db Asia has participated in one of these ‘e-tasting’ workshops to see how and if they really work.

In Hong Kong, Omtis Fine Wines has kick-started the “eTasting at Home” series this April. The programme includes a weekly tasting session for its clients. Every Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Omtis invites representatives from a renowned winery to guide the audience through a dedicated tasting on their wines.

Philippe Bera, CEO of Omtis Fine Wines, said: “When the Hong Kong government first announced the alcohol ban in March, we could foresee social distancing shall be heightened. Therefore our team sat together and brainstormed ideas that we can do at this moment. Eventually, we came up with the idea of ‘bringing a chateau to your home’. It is still a structured tasting, yet the style and format will be much homey and casual.”

Unlike other similar programmes being done, Bera insisted on inviting representatives of the wineries to host the session personally.

“When I pitched the idea to the wineries, many of them were intrigued right away. But they might have concerns about host the conference at home because of ‘accidents’ like their kids bumping into the camera. I told them just to take it easy as the whole concept is meant to be relaxing.”

Bera’s idea was welcomed by the wineries and, so far, over 25 have signed up with Château Troplong-Mondot being the first featured winery.

The Logistic & Preparation

A day before the event, the tasting set, a bottle each of Troplong-Mondot 2005 and 2013, were sent to my address, along with an email of suggested instructions such as opening the bottles three hours before the tasting and making sure they were cooled gently to 18°C.

There were also some food pairing suggestions for both wines (beef, veal, wild duck or pork with the 2005 and even sea bass in a wine sauce for the 2013) so participants could enjoy the wines afterwards with their dinner.

Bera commented: “The tasting will be held at 6:30 pm for around 45 minutes. We hope to set this up as a session before dinner, and we encourage participants to prepare food that compliments the wines well, so after the session they can continue to enjoy the wine.”

The session

When everything was all set and the session was about to begin, I logged on to the designated Zoom link to the webinar.

Bera, Aymeric de Gironde, director of Château Troplong-Mondot, and Ferreol du Fou, export director, were there already with other participants.

Gironde began by introducing the history and geography of the winery. Troplong Mondot is already known for its elegant wine style, but since he joined the winery in 2017, he has been actively making changes to the vinification and winemaking methods.

Mnay of the participants of the webinar were very interested in the technical side of the winery and seized the chance to get Gironde’s insights.

Gironde explained the soil composition in the vineyard.

After the informative introduction, it was the tasting. Gironde walked us through vintage 2013, followed by the 2005.

The 2013 showed a fresh and flavourful profile, expressing a purity of fruit; meanwhile, the 2005 exerted incredible power with real balance and complexity.

Everyone taking part will have had their own experience of the wines but the overall experience was still novel and fun.

The attendees were keen to ask questions and air their thoughts on the wines. To keep the session more interactive, Bera utilised the polling function in Zoom to gather the group’s opinions on the wines as well as the food pairing ideas.

 

The verdict

The session wrapped up after an hour. Thanks to the advancement of technology, wine enthusiasts are now able to enjoy a proper wine tasting at home. However, to prevent any wastage of wine, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some friends or family who can share the wine with you afterwards otherwise, using gadget like Coravin can also to help you save opening a whole bottle alone.

“I’m surprised by the interaction, it was fruitful. ” Gironde commented. “When Philippe pitched me with this e-tasting concept, I thought it was such a good idea. My only concern could be the bad internet connection I might have, but other than that I don’t see any problem at all. The world is now going through something special, and we definitely have to be creative at times like this.

“I think eTasting is going to be a trend,” he continued. “After this first tasting with my Hong Kong clients, next week I’m going to do another session with my clients in Quebec!”

“When we initiate the idea, we have nothing to lose. In this first session, I was impressed by the involvement of the attendees. It is good to ‘meet’ our clients in their home setting, right before dinner was served!” Bera said.

Over the coming three months, the company is going to host a tasting session every week. Some of the French properties on the list inlcude: Château Lafite, Château Palmer, Domaine Henri Rebourseau, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and the list of wineries is expanding to Italy and California too.

Want to run your own online tastings with friends and family from your home?

We’ve put together a handy starter kit to help you begin your own wine tasting parties.

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