Who gets in the wines for an online wine tasting? - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

For a tasting you need wine. In a traditional classroom the organiser brought along the wines for everyone to taste and the wine glasses too with those attending paying for these wines in the ticket price.

Now with online tastings we have two models emerging - the tasting organiser still arranges the tasting samples but these have to be sent out to the online attendees. To reduce postage costs these are often repackaged into small 200ml sample bottles or pouches. The ticket price still covers the cost of the wine.

The other online tasting model asks the ticket purchaser to source and buy their own wines - either being directed by the tasting organiser to a wine retailer who will send out whole bottles to their home address in the usual online wine ordering method - so sending by courier or parcel post - or the online attendee purchases wines for themselves going to a retailer or supermarket of their choosing but taking with them a list of suggested wines provided by the online tasting organiser.

Each method has its own upsides and downsides for both the organiser and taste attendee.

The 'send the samples' method is less hassle for the ticket buyer as everything is arranged but may mean they pay over the odds for the wines, while for the event organiser it means they can be reassured their customers all have the same wines making it easier to plan the content of the online tasting - they might even taste these same wines beforehand and plan the tasting analysis making for a smoother 'classroom' experience.

The alternative 'buy-it-yourself' model means more work for those wishing to attend an online tasting but it does mean a lower ticket price as the wine costs are not included. The ticket buyer is now in charge of choosing the amount they wish to spend which can take into account in-store offers and reductions at the time. Plus buying the wine means there is an whole extra dimension to the online tasting experience - learning about, and interacting with, the wine before you even get online. Browsing bottles and reading labels and asking for advice in a shop adds a layer of understanding about the wines before they are even discussed online.

No one wine buying model is winning - both are equally evident in the ever expanding marketplace of online wine tastings.

But online tastings is still a relatively new concept for both organisers and ticket-buying wine enthusiasts and it will change and adapt as new home wine delivery methods emerge and as virtual software changes to become less clunky and easier to use. Who knows we may even get wine aromas pumped out through our computing devices along with sound - cinemas and in-store supermarket bakeries have been doing this for years so why not online wine events?

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About WineUncorked and its editor, Paula Goddard Read more