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Zoom wine tasting? Virtual happy hours? It’s all on the table as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Cheers to that!

Image by Pixabay user Engin_Akyurt
Image by Pixabay user Engin_Akyurt (Pixabay)

Zoom or Facebook Live probably weren’t invented for the purpose of wine tasting, but with people quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, why not take advantage of such virtual platforms to have a glass of wine with friends?

With wineries shut down and plenty of time on people’s hands, doing at-home or virtual wine tasting events is becoming more desirable.

In light of that, Karen Bonarrigo from Messina Hof Winery in Texas has offered some tips on how to have winery-quality tasting sessions right at home.


Which wines are in season right now?

With the warmer weather of spring and summer on the horizon, Bonarrigo said wines that are drier and good to drink while relaxing outside are more in season.

Examples include rose, Gewurztraminer, riesling, GSM and pinot grigio.

“Some white (wines) that are off-dry and a little bit sweet are great options for just relaxing on the back patio or getting some fresh air,” Bonarrigo said.

How many types of wines should there be at a home wine-tasting event?

Bonarrigo said it all depends on how quickly people go through a particular bottle, and whether they prefer to save their wine -- but three is generally a good number to have at any wine-tasting event at home.

“Three wines allows you to have some range,” Bonarrigo said. “It allows you to try some different styles or purchase some different vintages. It gives you a little bit of variety.”

Besides wine, what else should be a staple at home wine-tasting events?

Any decorations are always nice, and one perk to having wine tasting events at home or virtually is that you can be in your pajamas.

But Bonarrigo said the most important thing is to have good food and snacks to go with any drinks.

For example, different types of cheeses or Hors d’oeuvres are a great snack.

“Food is always a great option,” Bonarrigo said. “Just to have little bites of things that you can try with the different wines -- (they’re) something that can spark a lot of conversation.”

Bonarrigo added that glassware isn’t necessarily an important staple.

“Glassware -- that is up to you,” she said. “Nobody has to be too fancy doing virtual tasting.”

What dinner items are best to pair with wine while quarantined?

Relaxing with a glass of wine sounds like comfort -- so it’s no wonder that Bonarrigo said pairing wine with comfort foods are what many people are opting for while quarantined.

For example, if there’s a family of Italian descent that’s desiring Italian food, they’d want to look for wines that go great with pasta and bread.

Chicken, vegetables, and even foods that can be grilled, such as steak, are great to pair with a variety of wines.

It depends on the specifics of the meal, but often, red meat goes well with fuller-bodied red wines and white wine often accompanies fish or poultry. Think a piece of salmon and a dry Chardonnay.

“I think everybody, at this point, especially in the evening, (is) starting to grab things that make them feel a little bit better and make them feel more connected with their family,” Bonarrigo said. “We are falling on back on things we know we can make, we know that we love and we know that our families love.”

Is buying wine online a good option?

Grocery stores and liquor stores may still be open, but people shouldn’t be venturing outside much in the wake of the pandemic.

With that in mind, Bonarrigo said, purchasing wine online can actually be better than doing so in a store.

“When ordering online, you actually have a little bit of an upper-hand because you can read the descriptions of the wines,” she said.

Descriptions of the wine online talk about features, such as how it tastes, what foods are best to pair them with and the level of sweetness a wine has.


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