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Wine tasting for charity event


appreciator
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Hi there,

A friend of mine has decided to throw a wine tasting to raise funds for a charity she is involved with. She is hoping to sell tickets to about 100 people and has asked me to help organize. She would like to host the event in early September this year so we have a bit of time to figure it out... I think. :blink:

Gulp....

I've never done this before! I've organized various different events over the years but never a wine tasting.

Any thoughts, ideas, words of wisdom?

P.S. We are in Vancouver, BC Canada (in case that makes any difference :biggrin: )

Edited by appreciator (log)

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Do you need a theme? I've organized Portuguese, Australian and South African wine tastings, just to name a few...

How much do you want to charge attendees, and how much do you hope to raise?

What's your price point?

Any chance of getting the wine donated or underwritten by a sponsor?

I'm an old hand at this...let me know what it is you're looking for and I'm happy to throw some ideas.

Curlz

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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How you organize can be determined by who the folks attending are. If it's a wine savvy crowd, then a tasting centered on a particular country or region showcasing different styles of a particular grape and different vintages is one way to go.

If it's more of a group of wine beginners, I think it's better to have a few varietals (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, reisling for whites, cabernet, merlot, pinot noir for reds) and explain about the different grapes and let people taste the different flavors.

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Sarah, Hi...

May I suggest that you read my article about hosting wine-tasting parties at http://www.stratsplace.com/rogov/art_tasting_party.html .

Going past that, especially in a fund-raiser at which there will be a fairly large number of participants be absolutely certain that you:

(a) Have one wine knowledgeable person who is clearly "in charge" and who will lead the tasting. Ideally that person will not be one of the "crowd" attending and not a wine merchant as merchants are busy selling wines and not experiencing them. You may well find that because this is a charitable event, one of the local wine writers will contribute his/her time to this.

(b) Plan the tasting with that person well in advance, deciding with him/her what wines will be served, in what order, how many glasses will be required per person at each table, and how much time that person estimates the evening will take.

© Because this is to be a "guided tasting", the person you find should have a personality strong enough not to dominate but to lead the group and avoid the evening turning into panedmonium.

(d) Be sure to have enough people on hand to serve the wines as they are required

(e) In addition to charging a fee for attending, consider having enough bottles donated that you will be able to auction them off towards the middle (but not the end) of the tasting (perhaps on the breakbetween whites and reds)

(f) Be 100% sure to let your guide know that the people who are coming are not expecting a highly techinical or snob-laded event but they will want at least some details about each of the wines they are tasting.

(g) Also drop a hint to the guide that it might be wise, towards the onset of the evening, to have him/her give a few general hints about tasting wines, and that you may even want to give people pages on which they can write their impressions. Should you like, you'll find such a downloadable page at http://www.tobypress.com/rogov/tasting.pdf

Hope this helps. Should you need more information you can of course ask here or if you prefer contact me by email at drogov@cheerful.com

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You'll also want to speak to an attorney, or at least to someone knowledgeable about the local beverage laws (such as your insurer). If you sell tickets to an event where alcohol is served, you may very well trigger a host of regulations and liabilities. And you may be breaking the law if you do it without some sort of permit. This varies by locale.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Instead of a sit-down tasting, charity events often feature a "grand tasting" with tables placed around the perimeter of a large room, and each table hosted by a local winery. You could invited BC and Washington wineries to pour at your event--that way you get the wine donated and have a variety of knowledgeable people also donating their time to explain their wines, a product they know very well. It's much more casual and unintimidating than a formal taste-through. You might also ask a local restaurant to do a fabulous cheese and bread spread. If you decide to go this route, make sure the wineries have large enough tables--six feet per winery is good, eight is better. Rent dark colored linens--not white. Provide plastic water pitchers and pour pots that do not look like water pitchers! Have volunteer staff to check and dump the pour pots, deliver ice, and refill water pitchers.

If there is enough room in your venue, you could also set up a silent auction on long tables in the center of room, so people can walk around the display and bid on items. You will want your auction island to be 2 tables wide, so there is enough room to display lots and place bidding sheets and pens near each lot.

Good luck with your event! :smile:

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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You're getting great info here, but I will add my two cents about having wineries/vendors at these...personally, I think they can turn a tasting in to an impersonal event that doesn't focus on the non-profit. I also agree that it's crucial to stress that this is not a high-brow/stuffy event. A lot of people have that perception about wine tastings, and imo, those aren't the fun ones! :wink:

If your goal is to have around 100 attendees, I'd far prefer a tasting led by a wine educator (the US has the Society of Wine Educators--don't know what you have up there) with food matched to the wines, and a better, imo, opportunity for your guests to really get an education--not just a ton of samples. A good caterer can work with you or the wine educator to pair the food with the wine, and in my experience, you can have a 2-3 hour event with half a dozen wines. Keep in mind that it's a tasting, not a 'drinking'!! Figure 2-3 oz. pours of each wine, and you'll see that you don't need a ton of it.

The pacing of the food and tasting, along with the chance for a rep from the charity to make brief remarks, and an educator to talk about the wine(s) and answer questions can really make for a GREAT event. Your donors, prospects and friends will leave feeling good (wine's good that way :biggrin: ) about the charity, they will have had FUN, and they will have learned something!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Holding court for 100 people where alcohol is involved will be challenging. You can do it, but you will need careful and precise coordination to fill everyone's glass at roughly the same time and then lead them in education about what they are drinking. If they are not sitting down, forget it altogether.

Much of getting good advice to you here will depend on what type of event you and your friend envision.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I've actually had excellent luck with a group of 100 with a stand-around (some seating) tasting of this sort, but Brad is right--the key is to have enough staff or volunteers on hand to pour simultaneously. What we've done is have enough glasses for everyone to have one each for whites and reds, and once they have their glass, they hold on to it. We provide pitchers of water and dump buckets for rinsing them in between, and with some extras on hand, haven't had a problem. We also take the bottles and walk around to make the pours--much better than having 20 people attacking you at a table.

Again, having a sense of what type of event you want to hold will help all of us focus on our suggestions.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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^ Wow.... thanks everyone for the great ideas... you've provided lots to think about. I think we were originally leaning towards the type of tasting that Mary describes above (a number of tables hosted by various wineries/wine reps), but now may consider a more structured tasting.

Will have a discussion with my friend and see what she thinks, and report back.

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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Sarah, figure out where the event is being held, (let me know the charity as well) and start contacting the Marketing Directors of some of the local distributors. You can also contact the IVSA for info on who to contact. I've worked at many of these events. Get the Distributors on board and it should be fairly easy to organize. Let me know what else you need. (I know most of the people in the industry here)

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Sarah, figure out where the event is being held, (let me know the charity as well) and start contacting the Marketing Directors of some of the local distributors.  You can also contact the IVSA for info on who to contact.  I've worked at many of these events.  Get the Distributors on board and it should be fairly easy to organize.  Let me know what else you need.  (I know most of the people in the industry here)

I'm 100% behind Peppyre's ideas. Get the local agents involved. Phone the IVSA and touch base with a handful of agents. Go with a theme to attract a crowd, get a bread producer and cheese shop on board as well. Need a hand? PM me I've done alot of events for groups of from 20 to 100.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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Thanks again for the great suggestions... I hope to meet with my co-organizer over the next week or so to finalize a definitive plan.

You have all given us great things to thing about. I will indeed PM those who have said I can do so with further requests.... I know this will be an evolving process over the next few months. All your help and expertise is greatly appreciated!

sarah

Always take a good look at what you're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was. --Unknown

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