Wine Tasting 2.0; Discovering Hidden Gems

Think of wine tastings and you probably think of stuffy middle aged men and women, standing around in collared shirts and silk neck scarves having sophisticated conversations much ado about nothing… Think again.

Budget and great attendance; these are the two big concerns from event clients: how can they deliver a stellar experience on budget? and how can they ensure a solid attendance?

We all know that to get people excited about your event you need something to set your event apart.  In an age where everyone is fighting for attention, just hosting a product launch, networking evening or client appreciation reception is not going to guarantee anyone, let alone your VIPs, will make time in their busy schedules to attend.


But creating something engaging and unique without serious sponsorship or a healthy budget can be a challenge. This is where a wine tasting event can offer an effective and refreshing solution to both these obstacles.

As the late Robert Mondavi once said, “Wine inspires sociability.” We’ve certainly borne witness to that wisdom! It is not uncommon for wine tasting events to be sold out quickly. When wine is involved, instead of fighting for attendance, RSVPs go through the roof, and the clients are either opening up more seats or happily hanging the “all booked up” shingle.

There is a vast range in the type of tastings that one can host. We have led high end tastings with first-class bottles like iconic California Cabernets, prestigious Italian Barolos and acclaimed French Bordeaux and the impact is certainly impressive for the right clientele, but not every wine tasting has to be expensive or feature majestic bottles of grandeur. In fact, it’s often better to go with the hidden gems that deliver true value and do intimate and engaging programing using wines that will inspire and educate your guests – and leave them with helpful ideas for their own entertaining.

For those looking to maximize their wine tasting budgets, we recommend staying away from the red-hot popular regions like Napa, Burgundy and Tuscany, in favour of less-fashionable, but still exceptional, areas.


South Africa; with a wine industry that dates back centuries, gorgeous Cabernets, Sauvignon Blancs and sparkling wines are rivaling the world’s best, but because the region is still looking to catch on here, Canadians get the benefit of some terrific deals.
Languedoc-Roussillon (sometimes referred to as the “Midi” or simply, “the Languedoc”) is another hot bed of wine deals.

Running along the Mediterranean coast in southern France, the area churns out top-notch red blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.  Rich and robust in character, the wines use the same grapes as the neighbouring Rhône, but cost is often substantially lower.

Germany. Riesling fans, take note. The birthplace of the zippy, fresh and flavourful Riesling is also a place for terrific bargain hunting. Of course, not all German Rieslings are thrifty, but there are a number available for under $20.

Italy. If you stay away from the prized wines like Barolo, Super Tuscans and Brunellos, you can find some exceptional deals – namely the rich reds from the south and crisp whites of the north. Stay with the outliers and you should uncover a wealth of good wine buys.

Spain. While there are some pricey wines to be found in this country, for the most part, the wines are wonderful value. Rioja is the most famous wine region and has seen some significant investment over the years, but there is still a lot of bargain shopping to be had.

Argentina. Everyone loves Malbec, and in addition to this über popular red, the South American country is producing a range of wines, including quality Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet, just to name a few.

There is so much more to say about wine and wine tastings but the countries listed here offer a wide selection and you should be able to find something on-target for your next event.

Written by Erin Henderson, Co-Founder of the sommelier services and wine events firm, The Wine Sisters. Based in Toronto, Erin and her team of certified sommeliers and entertaining experts help clients take their events from Standard to Sparkling with customized wine tastings, parties and wine tours. For more information, visit or follow them on Instagram @The_Wine_Sisters