The Best Virtual Wine Tastings to Enjoy from Home Right Now
Far into our second month of social distancing, we’re all continuing to take major safety precautions while cooking food and pouring drinks we love at home. Fortunately for us, wine purveyors have leaned into the times, with everything from virtual tastings via Zoom to tutorials on Instagram Live, and you can even find wine and recipe pairings taught by Michelin-starred chefs. So although most of us can't visit our favorite regional vineyards or experience new ones in person, we can enjoy a tasting or three from the comfort of our own kitchens, dining tables, or even desks (work is hard). We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tastings from award-winning wineries, wine bars, and wine experts that you can experience in the weeks and months to come. Check out the Wine Institute's Discover California Wine website for more virtual events. Discover new favorites, enjoy some classics, and plan your next trip to visit the source once things return to normal.
Six-time James Beard Award finalist Matthiasson in Napa Valley decided to “reopen” their tasting room via Zoom. All you need to do is order a tasting pack of six wines for a flat fee of $249 (an 18% discount) and arrange for a live Zoom Meeting with the staff for a private tasting and virtual tour of the vineyard. Friends and loved ones from different locations are welcome to join. Afterwards you can order your favorites with a 10% discount on 1-5 bottles, 15% from 6-11, and 20% off any orders of 12 bottles or more. Their wine club membership also includes free shipping right now.
Stony Hill Vineyard
Stony Hill has several virtual Zoom tastings planned for upcoming weeks, with wine packs you can order in advance of the session. The “Stony Hill Spectrum” offers three classic varieties on Thursday, May 7, May 21, June 4, and June 18 for $173. The “Chardonnay Vintages” session is also offered on alternating Thursdays: April 30, May 14, May 28, June 11, and June 25 for $124. For red wine lovers, the “Cabernet Comparison” is offered Wednesday April 29, May 13, May 27, June 10, and June 24 for $190. The 45-minute sessions begin at 5:30 p.m. PT / 8:30 p.m. ET. They can also arrange exclusive tastings for friends and family.
Winemaker Jesse Katz has set up multiple tasting packages, including “Dining In with Aperture” which includes both wines pairings featuring recipes from top chefs in the area. A portion of proceeds from the packages go to Corazón Healdsburg to support those most greatly affected by COVID-19. The sessions are available at special members' pricing, with complimentary shipping. Chef sets rotate weekly, you can check the current schedule and purchase at Aperture’s website. Katz and his team also offer private virtual tastings from Aperture, Devil Proof, and the Setting, guiding guests through the selection. To book a private tasting, call 707-200-7891 or email email@example.com.
Jackson Family Wines
The expansive winery group Jackson Family Wines is currently doing a series through wine.com about their collections from Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Oregon. This week features the “new wave” wines, with a guided tasting of Cambria Julia’s Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, Diatom in Los Alamos, and Nielson in Santa Barbara. They will also recommend food pairings for all. The week of May 4 continues the experience with a virtual tasting from Willakenzie, Gran Moraine, and Penner Ash from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Registration is available at wine.com/kjexperience, and you always can order the wines from wine.com or check your local stores via drizly.com. Looking for a basic crash course? Do a virtual tasting of Kendall Jackson Wines for just $53 any time you like.
William Chris Vineyards
William Chris makes great Texas wines, and is offering several promotions, including a 12-pack of Skeleton Key Cabernet Sauvignon for $200 and virtual tasting 4-packs starting from $99 (shipping included). Order the 4-pack by Tuesdays at 5 p.m. to participate in the Virtual Tasting on Saturdays at 4 p.m. Their in-house sommelier and Director of Wine Education is doing a series of Facebook Live “happy hours” daily during the week at 5 p.m. For locals there is also curbside pickup at the winery from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week.
Jenny & Francois Selections
Jenny & Francois, a natural wine distributor, has launched an Instagram Live Video chat series every week. This week is Calcarius wine from Puglia (Sunday 5/3 at 1:00 p.m.), where you’ll take a live tour through the cellar and vineyard. Their website will point you to where to pick up the wines locally or order online to participate.
Orange wine is all the rage now, and the founder of the world’s first orange wine subscription service, Doreen Winkler, is hosting Instagram Live sessions on Mondays at 6:00 p.m. ET at @orange_glou. Participants can ask questions to Doreen and her winemaker guests, and get pairing recommendations and updates on how the regions are being affected. The 3-bottle subscriptions are $105/month and 6 bottles $195/month; non-subscription boxes are $115 for 3 bottles, $205 for 6, each with extensive vinification, tasting and food pairing notes.
The St. Helena winery Tres Sabores is doing virtual tastings every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. PT. Winemaker and owner Julie Johnson will join with special guests and taste wines along with a recipe and special cheese selections.
New York City’s Corkbuzz is hosting online classes with sommeliers (you can purchase for $10 via their website). All registered attendees can view the class, open the same style at home and drink along, where instructors will walk through the wines they are tasting. Use the "chat" section of Zoom to ask questions, submit questions ahead of time at orders@corkbuzz, or submit questions after via email. Upcoming classes include a regional profile of Beaujolais (today April 30 at 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) a masterclass on Northern Italian wines (May 1 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET), and an “all about rosé” class (May 2 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET).
Copper Cane Wines
Joseph Wagner, owner of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, will host a virtual event on Friday May 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Copper Cane's Facebook page. He will talk through how his signature winemaking style came to be and will be tasting the six wines including pinot noir from Belle Glos, Böen, and Elouan, Chardonnay from Böen, and Napa Valley Quilt 2018 Fabric of the Land Red Wine. Tune in to learn or order some to try from coppercane.com or from your local store via drizly.com.
If you’re unsure about committing to a full bottle before tasting, Sonoma County’s Passalacqua Winery has taken a different approach. The winery is offering personalized wine tasting flights delivered in three 2-ounce servings for $30 (shipping included). Appointments are made for a virtual tasting session with a Passalacqua wine expert in the format of your choice (FaceTime, audio call, etc.) within 1-2 days of receiving the wines. The cost of the wine flight also contributes towards a three or more-bottle purchase of your favorites from Passalacqua.
Wine.com Presents: John Legend and Jean-Charles Boisset and LVE Wines
Wine.com is hosting a live session on May 6 at 4:00 p.m. PT with musician John Legend and Jean-Charles Boisset tasting of their rosé wines from France. You can register here and purchase wines here to try out the French sparkling and a Côtes de Provence wine and learn the inspiration behind LVE. Wine.com also hosts a SIP in Place Happy Hour with Jean-Charles Boisset every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 6:00 p.m. PT.
K. Laz Wine
K. Laz is offering four different wine kits (with 2-day shipping included) with a scheduled virtual wine tasting through Zoom, Facebook or Skype. Opt for a Cabernet Sauvignon trio or Pinot Noir trio for $235, a white wine trio for $185, or an elevated 100-point wine set for $1,085. You can also opt for a customized private wine tasting by purchasing selections from their website, and they'll host your virtual tasting with those specific wines. You'll also get special pricing on ordering wines tasted during the virtual tasting.
Big Cork Vineyards
Maryland-based winery Big Cork Vineyards will be partnering with Top Chef’s All-Star Finalist, Bryan Voltaggio for a Cinco de Mayo themed virtual tasting. The vineyard will showcase Bryan’s favorite Mexican dish paired with their wines to recreate the perfect at home celebration via Zoom at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can access the event via this link.
Taste Wine with José Andrés
Chef José Andrés will also be hosting tastings of Spanish wines on Instagram Live (@chefjoseandres) every weekend. The first will be Saturday May 2th at 4 p.m. ET, kicking off with Ruter de Vink and Alvaro Palacios followed by tastings alongside ThinkFoodGroup's Master Sommelier Andy Myers and Jaleo’s Head Sommelier Jordi Paronella.
Bonus: Woodford Reserve's Kentucky Derby Celebration
Woodford Reserve is joining Churchill Downs to celebrate the tradition of the Kentucky Derby while also raising up to $2 million for people impacted by the global pandemic. The day-long virtual experience will take place this Saturday, May 2 (the original date for the race). Learn the history of the Derby from Master Distiller Chris Morris at 2 p.m. ET as he demonstrates how to make the perfect Mint Julep. Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall, an expectant mother, will share her favorite mocktail recipes inspired by Derby cocktail classics. Join the Global Live Toast to Derby at 3 p.m. look forward to the Sept. 5 Run for the Roses.
FYI: California Wines's event map is updated daily with virtual tastings, cooking classes, and special discounts. If your winery is also offering regular virtual tastings and great deals for shipment, let us know! email: Megan.Soll@foodandwine.com