This past weekend was a big one for North Texas wine tasting fans. What, with two tastings offering 20-28 wines each, what could go wrong?
My partner in crime and I arrived at the first tasting with the usual excitement - What discoveries lay just around the corner on our journey today? Early birds, as usual, our arrival time would give us ample time to really take in each wine's characteristics while enjoying a warm spring afternoon.
We were met at the door by a couple of ladies and asked about our RSVP. I let them know that we emailed the owner and that we should be on the list. What I heard next seemed quite strange – “Oh, so, you did not go through Groupon? You will need to go and pay full price at the bar.” Groupon? Today? My excitement quickly turned to fear and agony. After a couple of seconds of pulling myself together, we walked over to the bar and checked in. We received a green band which differed from the Groupon yellow. Here we go.
The tasting was set up in 4 tables rather than the personal service that we were used to. The place was packed with yellow bands everywhere in site. Where are my green banned bretheren? I gulped my elitist angst, checked my tasting sheet, and headed for the first table which featured an array of wines that ranged from sparkling white to bigger reds.
Wanting to stay in succession, we asked for the Sparkling, and then the Riesling. The Riesling, a Spatlese level German wine from the Mosel region was the standout here. Nice smell of Petrol on the nose and a full bodied Off-Dry wine within the mouth – Not bad. Rather than being able to chat about the wine, this was more of a real-estate battle with the throngs of people working their ground to get the next drop. So we moved on to the next table to fight the good fight.
The second table fared better in that its proprietor was a very nice and approachable young lady who had volunteered her time for the day. We tried a very interesting Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa that had the usual Green Pepper and Jalapeño aromas on the nose, nice medium plus acid levels, and crisp citrus notes on the palette.
The final two tables were more challenging than the first. The Groupon massive had made its way to these specific areas of the building and were in heavy grazing mode at this point. We wiggled our way up and tasted as many of the wines as we could. After a bit of a long wait, in which our patience was even complimented by a bystander, we made our way through the final list. These were all Dry Reds that ranged from Sangiovese of Italy to Grenache & Syrah from the Rhone Valley in France to California Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignons. The standout was the 2008 Oak Cliff Cellars Lake County Petite Syrah from northern Napa. This big silky wine displayed dark berry and plum fruit flavors, medium soft tannins, and a nice long finish. The grapes and wine are produced in Calistoga, CA, but yes, the wine makers do live in Oak Cliff – Great stuff.
So, with an empty glass, no wine purchased, and a folded tasting sheet in hand we made our way through the crowd. This tasting, that has historically lasted 4 hours and usually ends with me lugging a case out of the door, ended within an hour and we purchased no wine. I totally understand someone’s choice to participate in a marketing event to get to potential new customers, but are these the people you want to bring in? Potential clients that are new to wine and that will only pay half price just for a tasting? I didn’t see a lot of purchases, but to be honest, it was hard enough to enjoy the wine I was tasting with all of the shoving going on. My suggestion? In the future, please be courteous and let your regular clients know that you will be participating in a Groupon event. That way, we can decide beforehand whether we want to be pushed and prodded by the yellow banded masses of the world.