The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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14 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { in service } A FEW SIMPLE TIPS CAN HELP YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF WINE EVENTS by Christie Dufault Trade Tasting Etiquette PHOTO: D OUG YOUNG RECENTLY I ATTENDED A SLEW OF AUTUMN trade tastings in the San Francisco Bay Area. The seasonal circuit is nothing new. I understand and respect that there are important fall releases for significant wines and that suppliers of all sizes aim to position wines for the O-N-D, that business acronym that refers to the last financial quarter: October, November and December. It is no sur - prise that the fall season is a significant one for everyone in the trade; from on-premise sales to retail merchants to DTC, the end of the year is key. These events are important equally for buyers and sellers; people on both sides of the business see them as opportunities to connect with the people and to share relevant information about the wines that we ultimately collectively present to consumers. Trade tastings come in all shapes and sizes; maneuvering their varied styles is essential. Here are some tips, shaped from my own experience as a sommelier, to navigate large trade events and get the most out of the opportunities. ■ RSVP. The anglicized acronym familiar to us all translates directly from the French as "Respond, if you please." Surely letting suppliers know that you plan to attend is the courteous thing to do. ■ Regret if you cannot attend, especially if the invite came from a supplier with which you intend to do business. In my opinion, this one is over - looked. When you receive an invitation to a tast- ing and you are unable to attend, send a regret reply. A simple "Thank you for the invitation. I'm sorry I can't make it. Please keep me in mind for next time." goes a long way in terms of profession - alism. And graciousness is a disappearing virtue. ■ Wear the name badge. If it is a large tasting with dozens or hundreds of attendees and the producer(s) of the event are supplying and encouraging name badges, oblige. It helps every- one in the room. If you think you're too cool for a name badge, whatever . . . perhaps you are, but by your anonymity you are missing a great opportu- nity to network. ■ Engage with the principals. What an oppor- tunity to taste with and discuss wines with the people responsible for producing them. Pose questions; learn as much as possible. ■ Take notes. Many producers supply a tasting and/or price list. In addition, I always bring a note- book for descriptors and to highlight the wines that really stood out for me. ■ Follow up and say thank you. I think that Emily Post and Judith Martin would agree: A small expression of gratitude for the opportunity to taste wines and learn more about them is simply the right thing to do.

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