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Step 2: Before the Tasting

Now that you have an idea for your theme and have contacted the Programs chair for selection of a date and approval, the planning for the event begins. This planning needs to begin at least two or more months before the actual event as pricing and newsletter articles need to be put together. Also, advance notice of the theme to the Education chair may allow them to do some research, or give them a few good ideas, for their monthly newsletter article as well.

A tasting often consists of about six wines plus an aperitif. The actual number of wines to be tasted greatly depends on the theme of course. You may want to contact some other chapter members to help you select the wines if you do not happen to have any chosen yet. I'm sure you will be able to find a few volunteers to pre-taste a few bottles. As you select the wines, you will need to periodically calculate the cost of the tasting. It may turn out that you might want to modify a few of the selections to get the price to what you think the target will be.

To help you in determining the cost of the tasting, please refer to Estimating the cost of a tasting. It provides some guidance as well as a link to an Excel spreadsheet that you can download to help you in calculating the cost.

*** As you select the wines, you will probably want to purchase them as early as possible since they may not be available if you wait a few weeks before the tasting to purchase them. Remember to keep those receipts so that you can be reimbursed for the wines that are consumed at the Tasting.

In general:

  • For dry wines, arrange for one bottle of each wine for every 10 reservations
  • For sweet wines, plan 15-18 pours per bottle.
  • If tasting more than 6 dry wines, plan 12 pours per bottle.

Two very important notes to consider when planning on the number of bottles to purchase.

  1. Only the wine consumed at the tasting is reimbursed, not all bottles originally purchased. You may want to purchase an additional wine of each in case one of your wines is corked. Should you have left over and unopened wine, you could always keep them for your personal consumption or offer one or two of them as a raffle prize at future tasting. It is, however, chapter policy to guarantee that the first two bottle's of a tasting will be reimbursed should the turnout be much less than expected.
  2. A legible receipt for the wine must be provided for reimbursement. If you happen to pull any cellared wine out for the tasting, we will need the original receipt. It is not our policy to reimburse based on current market prices.

About six weeks before the tasting, you will need to submit an article on your tasting to the Newsletter Editor with the details of your tasting. You can refer to previous newsletters for examples. At a minimum, the article should include:

  • Name/Theme of the tasting
  • General information on the wines to be presented
  • Name of the hosts Location and time for the tasting
  • Directions to the tasting
  • Cost per person
  • The number of attendees you can accommodate. If the maximum number is a firm limit, please note this in your article so that the Programs Chair and treasurer can closely watch the reservations as they come in and become more involved should the limit be reached.

The newsletter editor modify it for publication and also update the reservation form that is typically at the end of the newsletter. The reservation form will contain a reservation cutoff date for the tasting. The cutoff date is typically about 8 or more days before the tasting.

Once you have your article submitted for the newsletter, you will want to get in contact with the Programs Chair about wine glasses for the tasting. The chapter has several cases of wine glasses so that you do not have to supply your own.
Your tasting should also have a food presentation. This does not have to be anything extravagant as it is meant to complement the wines. Remember that we are their primarily to taste the wines. Anything above and beyond the $5/person allowance is done at the host's expense. To assist you with pairing the wine with a food presentation, there are many sites on the Internet that may be helpful. A few are listed below and if you happen to know of any other useful sources, please share them with the Webmaster so that the information can be added to this page for future hosts.

It is also customary to prepare a handout for each guest that provides some information on each wine that will be tasted. Do not include the price information on this handout as we will be judging each wine as we taste it and over the years we have found it best to provide pricing information after all the voting has taken place. A copy of the tasting notes for the November 2009 Champagne tasting is provided as an example.

Once the reservation cutoff date has arrived, the Treasurer will begin to periodically check the Chapter's post office box for reservation requests. Typically by the Tuesday or Wednesday before the tasting, the Treasurer will notify you number of reservations for your tastings. Sometimes there are a few delays in the mail, but by Wednesday, a good idea of the attendance should be known.

The Secretary will provide the scoring sheets and pencils for the tasting.