The Home Tasting Experience
Not only has remote working become the norm for so many workers worldwide, but the virtual trend has also touched the wine industry, with virtual tasting rising in popularity. For wineries who do it well, it can expand their market reach while at the same time offering customers an opportunity to engage in tasting experiences they wouldn’t ordinarily have easy access to.
One winery in particular who operates an impactful virtual tasting program is Opolo Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. For those lucky enough to live nearby or have the opportunity to visit the area, Opolo is one to put on the itinerary. The tasting room is bright and modern, and a large patio overlooking the vineyards is a great way to enjoy the wine and a piping hot pizza fresh from the oven.
However, if you are unable to visit the winery, you can still enjoy Opolo through a comfortable, cozy home tasting experience facilitated by a winery ambassador.
How the Home Tasting Experience Works
You have the option to order one of two tasting kit sizes. Both kits offer five varietals, and one is for either an individual or couple and provides five 187 ml bottles (equivalent to approximately 1/4 of a regular size bottle). The other includes five full size 750 ml bottles, ideal for a group tasting. There is actually a third option as well, which is the small kit, and it also includes a full size of the Reserve Zinfandel.
Because there was just three of us, I ordered the small kit with the full size bottle that we could enjoy later with dinner. I was delighted by the presentation of the wine. The box contained a row of five adorably small wine bottles with printed wine labels, along with tasting notes. I have done several virtual tastings where the wine is in simple glass bottles with either a hand-written label, or the name of the wine written directly on the bottle with a marker. So this was impressive in comparison.
The Tasting Experience
We set up a laptop on my parents’ dining table, lined up the small bottles according to the tasting order, and had some crackers and water available. With tasting notes in hand, we clicked on the Zoom link we had received, and we were immediately connected to our winery ambassador, Heather.
Despite the laptop screen serving as a separation between us and Heather, it was quickly forgotten as she walked us through each of the wines, and artfully inserted stories and the history of the winery in between each wine. I particularly appreciated that the tasting was fully dedicated to the three of us and we could freely interact, ask questions, and have a personalized experience, just as though we had bellied up to a tasting bar. Heather’s personable, high energy presentation made her the perfect host for the event.
The small kit was ideal, with each of us getting a standard 2 oz pour of each wine, which is a typical tasting at most wineries. Our line-up consisted of the following:
- Albariño: White wine whose native home is Spain. Aged in stainless steel, it was bright and crisp with dried apricot on the finish.
- Grand Rouge: Red Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Counoise, and Mourvèdre. With well rounded fruit and soft tannins, it finished with a bit of baking spice.
- Fusion: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, it had a velvety mouthfeel, with the distinct smokiness of the Syrah coming through at the end.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: With just a touch of Merlot and Malbec, this full-bodied Cab featured dark fruit and some herbal notes, too.
- Mountain Zinfandel: Lip smacking, lots of jammy fruit and was like a bit of Paso Robles in a glass.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I would recommend this activity for celebrating a special occasion with family or friends, adding a fun twist to entertaining, or simply enjoying a quiet evening at home.
What to Know
- You can order the kit on Opolo’s Virtual Tasting page. I ordered mine on a Friday and received it the following Wednesday. Depending on where you live and when you order the kit may either increase or decrease the delivery time.
- You can contact the winery by phone or e-mail to schedule the tasting. Instructions for this are included in your kit.
- Refrigerate the white wine after receiving the kit so that that it is chilled in time for the tasting. The winery also recommends opening the reds an hour prior to the tasting.
- If you can, try connecting to Zoom via a smart tv. You can cast the Zoom app from your iPhone or Android device via Airplay or Chromecast) that would be ideal.
- Put out some crackers or a a charcuterie plate to enjoy with the tasting if you want to pair the wines with food and/or simply want to clear the palate in between tastes. Don’t forget water to stay hydrated!
- The winery typically offers a discount on both bottles and shipping for the wines you wish to purchase following the tasting.