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La Crema

Tips for Having the Best Time at a Wine Tasting

La Crema Wine Tasting Tips

We caught up with Vancouver-based photographer and stylist Gabriel Cabrera of Artful Desperado to chat about the good, the bad, and the ugly of wine tasting:

OUT Magazine: Tell us a bit about the life of a wine expert and knowing a thing or two about wine tasting.
Gabriel Cabrera: Ok, first of all, I love wine. Who doesn't, right? But I am also lucky enough to live in one of the best wine regions in Canada, as Vancouver is near the Okanagan Valley. I make it there every other season to see the beautiful landscape and to learn more about the different varieties grown there. At the same time I get to travel for work to other regions in the U.S. and learn about what's going on south of the border from Vancouver, and collaborate with brands like La Crema, who have taught me a thing or two about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

OUT: So why do you think people should attend a proper wine tasting?
GC: I'm glad you said "a proper wine tasting" because sometimes we just do it for fun and we can't even remember what we tried. I believe having a proper tasting changes the way we choose our wine. I remember after I did a solid wine tasting (with food pairings and all) my mind was blown. I couldn't believe how subtle differences in the variety of wines could enhance the flavor of your meal and vice versa.

I think everyone should do tastings, especially with food pairings - it just totally changes the way you think about enjoying a meal.


OUT: What would you recommend for first time wine tasters to have a great experience?
GC: I think going to your personal favorite local winery or a wine shop offering tastings is the best place to start. Being familiar with a label eases you into the experience. Alternatively, at a wine shop, you'll likely get exposed to wines you may not have thought to try. And choose a group of friends or a friend that will enjoy the experience and be into it as much as you are. That way you both can exchange notes and you won't feel overwhelmed with any "technical" concepts thrown at you. Speaking of which, do a bit of homework and read about the basics of wine tasting (swirl, sniff, sip, spit). That way you can focus on the actual tasting and not on Googling terms.

OUT: What are some of the things one should avoid when wine tasting?
GC: First of all, have a meal before your tasting. Not a huge one, but don't go on an empty belly or things can get a little bit messy real quick. And you definitely don't want to be the sloppy one at a tasting. I would also avoid having a spicy meal as some of the heat or spices can linger on your palate and change the way wine tastes.

Secondly, you shouldn't feel obligated to drink all the wine they pass around to taste. Dump buckets and spittoons are there for a reason. Don't think you have to guzzle every drop, especially if you don't like a particular wine.

Be enthusiastic, but don't be a snob. Even if you're fairly confident in your wine knowledge, there's nothing worse than a know-it-all, especially when interacting with the folks leading the tasting. But by all means, ask questions and get involved in the wine conversation!

I would bring a little notebook or use your phone to take notes of cool facts you can refer to later...and to keep track of the wines you liked. I find that when you are tasting, your head starts thinking of dishes or occasions that wine would be perfect, so make note of those ideas!

OUT: Would you recommend doing a tasting at home?
GC: Oh definitely! You can call up a friend that knows about wine, or even local companies sometimes have reps that can pop by and give you a quick talk about it. If not, get a book at the library, get a few friends together, and give it a go. This type of experience at home is more relaxed and less about the technicality of it, but still super fun!


OUT: Where's the next place you hope to do a tasting?
GC: I am itching to check out the new La Crema Estate. Hopefully I'll make it to Northern California soon!

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