Tips for tasting multiple wines and keeping your reputation intact (and pants on)
**I should add, these tips are very helpful when hanging out with Argentine/French/Irish friends too who can drink ungodly amounts of fernet/pastis/beer, party 'till 5am and then go to work the next day like nothing happened.
As a 5'1" petit, American female, I unfortunately do not possess such capabilities, and have devised a system to retain some shred of dignity in "wet, reckless" environments. These tips have helped me in professional and social situations, but most notably during the 35-vintage wine tasting I attended in Napa.
I was invited to the tasting as a professional and was super excited to attend, yet the idea of 'little ol' me' tasting 35 wines in one sitting loomed over me like a Cabernet-colored thundercloud. Thoughts ran through my head day and night: HOW can I do this and NOT embarrass myself? Is this some sick joke on wine industry professionals? Is this physically possible or should I say my good-byes now? But above all: How do I keep my pants on and avoid throwing up? And just in case, I need to buy cute underwear and find a shirt that camouflages vomit STAT.
The saying goes something like: necessity breeds ingenuity, and thus these tactics were born. I needed to survive this tasting and keep my job, and I'm happy to report that by employing many of these tips, I did both. I managed to make it through the day employed, sans barf, with pants, and my shiny reputation intact! Here are the secrets; be the force.
1. Spit and Dump!
No, it's not the latest Sisqó song or akin to the bend and snap, it's the mark of a true wine professional. Whenever I see someone gracefully spitting a jet-stream of wine into the dump bucket or pouring out 2.3 of their 2.5 ounce taste at an event, I know they're a big deal. I mean, your amateur isn't going to engage in that kind of alcohol abuse in public, and dumping...shoot, an untrained wine-o will just about pass out as the burgundy gold is poo-pooed into the bucket of "house blend".
That said, my inner college kid is planning a mutiny against my 26-year-old professional self as I write this, but seriously, the most successful tactic I've employed to stay employed in this business is to swirl, sniff, sip then SPIT AND DUMP.
2. Bogart the buffet table
Cocktail weenies here I come! And Roquefort Bleu, you better watch out too, big mamma's here! Once again my inner (and skinnier) college girl, is freaking out, but a full stomach is crucial to holding your alcohol. Go for the fatties too: weenies, sausages, cheese, nuts, anything with protein and fat is a better sponge for excess wine than the diet-friendly carrots and cauliflower.
To those who gasp at my breach of etiquette here (some people think it's rude to show up to a party and set up camp by the food table), but I say barfing all over the place and perhaps loosing your pants is a much worse etiquette infraction. Although, then you don't have to work out the next day...you decide.
3. Sip Sloooooowly
Dont guzzle your drink like a Saudi Arabian camel who's been walking through the Sahara for three weeks with a Sumo wrestler on his back. Do as my gay friends once told me and "Honey, don't drink, 'sip, sip'."
4. Be a gracious hostess (pour everyone else more!)
Yeeeeaaahh! Get'em drunk foo! No, but really, by offering to pour wine for everyone else, you are in control of what goes in your glass and can be stealthy about how much (or little) you put in it. This goes hand in hand with tactic number three; if you sip slowly, then when it's time to fill'er up you'll have more wine in your glass than most people and can "top it off", without drinking as much. Sneaky, sneaky!
5. Color coordinate your alcohol and mixers
Oooh, now this is a tricky one. Get this, so when you're out partying with hard-drinking folk who, let's be honest, are the only good ones to party with, then you must have a game plan in order to survive the evening with, you got it, pants ON.
Game plan: Order a mixed drink, BUT make sure the color of the mixer is darker than or equal to the color of the alcohol. Vodka & soda or Cranberry, Fernet & coke, Bacardi & Diet. The perk of doing this is that you can order one legit drink (Vodka & Cran), and then one drink WITHOUT the alcohol (Cran only), and no one will notice! This works every time, but, make sure the first drink has alcohol in it in case anyone wants to taste it. Hehe, I'm awesome, I know!
6. Water, water everywhere!
OK, remember what I said about the camel in the desert with the Sumo? That applied only to guzzling your alcoholic beverages, but when it comes to water, I say fill that hump! Drink lots of water in between and alongside drinks. This tactic: A) automatically fulfills tactic three, B) keeps your complexion dewy and glowing (just sayin'), C) keeps the hangover headaches at bay, and D) Helps you drink less, hydrate more and thus....keep your pants ON! Woo!
8. Go for a Bud or le vin de France
It's simple reading and math. 40% alcohol per volume in vodka is more than the 3.5% alcohol per volume in beer. French, Spanish, Italian and other Old World wines are usually, lower in alcohol than New World wines. So, instead of asking for a double Long Island, hit the taps for a Bud or go for a classy Bordeaux at 12% alcohol rather than a pants-off California Zinfandel at 16%. Smart!
8. Offer to be the DD ahead of time
Well this is a no-brainer, a boring one, but effective nonetheless. At least if you agree to be the DD ahead of time, you can mentally prepare yourself for an evening of O'Douls and soda-pop, ANNNND you'll be a first-hand witness to all the stupid stuff you are currently exempt from, but would otherwise be a participating in. Ie:) texting your ex, making out with your friends, flashing the bartender and, of course, taking your pants off.