It’s possible to use wine tasting as a way of enhancing the atmosphere of a networking event; this can be understood in several ways, from providing a fun activity that can bring together different people, to the chance to get to know clients and potential business partners in a competitive setting. How well a wine tasting event can go often depends on the structure taken by the event, as well as whether its the focus, or just one small part of a wider series of activities.
The main role of wine tasting at a networking event should be to provide a relaxing way for people to get to know each other – effectively, you may be serving wine at an event anyway, so why make it more distinctive by introducing a tasting section? There are many different options for how this is structured, from vertical tasting of the same winery, through to horizontal tasting of vintages from different wineries. An expert on wine can lead the tasting and instruct the group on what to look for.
In this way, clients and attendees needn’t be experts in wine before they take part – wine tasting is subjective, and just being able to sip and taste bottles while learning more about them can be a good way to get people talking at a busy event. However, wine tasting can be made a little bit more competitive by having prizes for the best wine; this can be agreed on by votes, with the winning bottle then going to someone drawn randomly. An expert sommelier might also be able to award prizes based on the knowledge of other tasters.
There shouldn’t be an emphasis on guests knowing too much about wine, and the wines chosen should be familiar enough to guests to make them treatable or easy to talk about – wines from a particular region, or from a specific year, might be an approach to take to encourage discussion in an event; this might take the form of a sit down tasting, or a roaming activity that takes place as part of a reception.
Depending on the size of an event, wine tasting can be very cost effective, from providing wines to hiring a speaker; you may not even need to get a speaker if you want to keep things relaxed. The focus should be on wine tasting as part of the overall experience of an event, and as a way to get existing clients and potential new clients communicating with each other in an unusual setting.
To this end, you may also want to combine wine tasting with a food and drink reception that gives guests the choice to opt in or out of the tasting. Food can be provided that acts as a palette cleanser – lighter snacks and foods that aren’t too spicy are probably best, but shouldn’t be too different from the kind of buffet dishes that are typically served up at conferences and meetings. Make sure that guests are aware that there is going to be a wine tasting component to an event, though, so that they know what to eat before and during.
About the Author:
Patrick Hegarty is a food and wine writer who regularly contributes to a range of food and drink websites and blogs. He found Telegraph Wines is a great online wine merchant when it comes to finding wines for a party or event.