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Regional Wine Week: 47 Word Essay

Sip with an open mind.  Allow your palate to experience the distinct pleasure of North Carolina wines.  With terroir from the mountains to the coast and fruit varying from sweet muscadine to European bordeaux and Rhone vinifera grapes, be prepared for “Bottle Shock” North Carolina Style! Cheers!

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Virtual Riesling Tasting: Finger Lakes Wine

Shortly after the 2011 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Charlottesville, I received an email (or a link via email) that led me to a request form where I could request wine from the Finger Lakes Alliance.   Let’s be VERY clear here, I LOVE getting free wine, so obviously I completed the form and submitted it.  This was late July/early August.  With life being what it is, I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, let alone 6-8 weeks ago; so when I walked into my office on Monday, September 19 and saw a wine shipment sitting at my desk, I was thrilled!!!!  (I actually just assumed it was a wine club shipment as it is that time of year.)  Then I realized that the shipment was from the Finger Lakes Alliance which peaked my interest even more, so I grabbed something sharp to cut the box open.  I couldn’t remember ever tasting any wines from the Finger Lakes region so I was pleasantly surprised to see 6 bottles of Riesling neatly packed inside along with a letter thanking me for requesting the samples.  Quite frankly, I don’t remember requesting these wines but since I LOVE getting free wine samples, I wasn’t complaining, actually  I was absolutely giddy!!!!

The letter enclosed explained that the Finger Lakes Alliance simply wanted me to sample their wines.  The mayor of Geneva, New York had declared Thursday, September 22 as “Riesling Day.”  There was going to be a live tweet-up of people tasting a variety of 30 different Finger Lakes Rieslings and posting their comments.  I was under no obligation to participate, but I truly enjoy participating in virtual wine tastings and  interacting with all the other winos on Twitter so there was no way I was missing this opportunity!

I had six different Rieslings to choose from for the virtual tasting.  I opted to   only open two of them for the tweet-up and save four to review at a later date.  The two that I opened were Anthony Road 2010 Dry Riesling and Rooster Hill 2010 Medium Sweet Riesling.  I was looking for true variety in the tasting. 

The two things made this virtual tasting/tweet-up so unique was that the samples could be tasted in any order the participant chose and we had not all received the same wines.  The shipments were mixed.  Not only did we have tweets coming from all over the country, we had tweets being posted about wines that we might not have received or that we might not have opened yet.  You wanted to know what everyone else was tasting and what they thought about it especially if it was sitting at your house unopened!

There were a lot of people on Twitter participating in the Riesling Launch 2010.  I would venture to guess that it was a hugely successful launch party.  This lends itself to the question then, how do you host a successful virtual wine tasting?  We can definitely take some pointers from the Fingers Lakes Alliance and the Finger Lakes Wineries.  Here are a few other pointers that you might want to consider:

1.      Promotion:  Promote your virtual tasting.  Use the social media outlets that you already use to make your announcements (I.E. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Announce it and occasionally remind people about it.  Provide a link back to your website so people can read the details for wine selection, date and time of the tasting.

 2.      Your Website: Find a prominent spot on your homepage to promote your virtual tasting.  Again, provide details for wine selection, date and time of tasting.  It is entirely up to you if you want to offer discounts on either shipping or the wines being tasted for your virtual event.  

 3.      Newsletter:  Email a special edition of your newsletter to let people know about the virtual tasting.  There will be questions on how to participate so be sure to provide a link back to your website where all the questions can be addressed (see #1 above).  Make sure people know how to order or purchase the wines you have selected for your virtual tasting.

 4.      Invite a few guests (6-10) to participate in the wine tasting at a chosen location.  With your winemaker and tasting room manager at the tasting, you should be able to answer all the questions you will get from the virtual participants.  If you have someone who handles your social media, they need to be there as well.

 5.      Providing wine samples to some known bloggers or active Tweeters, will increase your exposure and keep the virtual tasting hopping with questions and comments.  

Money can’t buy the marketing you get from a properly executed tweet-up.  Most everyone who receives free samples will not only post during the tweet-up, they will also follow up with a blog post and links back to the winery(ies).  Who knows, your event might even go viral!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Finger Lakes Alliance for the opportunity to be part of the Riesling Launch 2010.  It was lots of fun and I got to try some great wines that I would have never bought but are now on my list of greats to try again and find the perfect pairing for.

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