This past Saturday I had the opportunity to work as an exhibitor at the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. It was a great learning experience for me as a student, and a great source of entertainment for me as a spectator!
My WSET instructor offered this gig to anyone that was interested, and I couldn’t say yes quicker. I knew it would be a great hands-on learning environment for me to talk about wine, get a feel for working a booth at a wine event, gain experience hosting tastings and get to speak with people who are already successful in the industry.
I was there representing wines of Vinho Verde, a beautiful region in Northwest Portugal. This region is known for its blends of white grape varieties and unique wine making style. These wines are all light bodied, low alcohol and have a slight effervescence to them that wake up your taste buds and give the wine a perceived sparkle! They are all easy drinking, FUN wines that almost everyone passing through enjoyed.
I was there with a marketing rep from New York that represents these wines and others, as well as with a certified Sommelier that would soon become my sensei for the day. Unfortunately for me, I was new to these wines from this region and had to study up quick before the rush of people came. But fortunately for me, talking about the same wines for several hours is a great way to memorize stuff! Once you get past the fumbling of words and basically making crap up, you actually start to be able to educate with confidence! (Or it could have been the liquid courage from sneaking tastes throughout the whole event…regardless, I faked it ’til I made it!)
The event was filled with a wide variety of characters. There were the genuine wine lovers that came to taste and learn about the wines. There were the snobs that came to show off to the exhibitors that they knew more about the wine than the winemaker. There were the posers that spoke all the right verbiage, but in all the wrong ways. Yes, there may have been an assortment of personalities and backgrounds at the start, but by the end of it, the wine lovers became adventurous, mixing the whites with the reds. The snobs became absentminded and reckless. The posers became tongue-tied. And they all became equals. It was a funny thing – I had finally memorized everything useful there was to know about the wines I was pouring, but by that time nobody cared to ask questions. It went from “Gimme the facts!” to “Just fill ‘er up!”
All this to say, it was nothing short of a great time. I got what I needed to out of it as a thirsty student, but I also got to enjoy myself and once again was reminded of everything The Frugal Grape stands for: that wine is for everybody, and it doesn’t have to be some snobby, unattainable lifestyle. Wine should be fun. Wine should be approachable. Wine can be anything you damn want it to be, but it most importantly should be drink, drank, drunk 😉