The winery tasting room. Let’s face it. Often crowded, it’s not always the ideal spot to taste wine. But if you want to try a range of said winery’s offerings, the tasting room has been the place to go. Until now.
You can have the tasting room come to you. TastingRoom has created wine tasting kits with four or six little bottles, each holding 50 ml (that’s 1.7 oz). This is the size of most small perfume bottles, and I say that because these kits remind me of perfume samples. You can get fragrance samples sent to you, and can try and buy perfume without ever leaving home. A terrific online fragrance store is Luckyscent. You can order a sample vial of any perfume on their website. Once you get it and try it and like it, you can order a bottle. If not, you’re out about $3.
TastingRoom works under the same concept. You can try and buy at home, without traveling to the winery tasting room, or buying the wine blind off a shelf and hoping for the best. TastingRoom takes the guesswork out of buying wine.
A sample box of Yorkville Cellars in Mendocino just showed up at my door one day last week. I decided to take it for a test run at my cookbook club meeting, to see how some wine lovers would react to the kits. I also had a kit of Grgich Hills wines (full disclosure, the Grgich Hills kit was provided by TastingRoom public relations).
The little bottles all have screwcaps, making these kits really portable. If you don’t take very big pours, there are enough sips of wine in each bottle for several people to try it. The two oft repeated comments were “these bottles are so cute,” and “what a great idea for a gift.” We were all impressed by the wines in the kit, especially the Grgich Cellars samples, which included both Chardonnay and Cabernet. The favorite wine out of either kit was the Grgich Hills Violetta, a late harvest white wine blend that went really well with an appetizer of cheese stuffed figs wrapped in proscuitto.
Should I want to buy a bottle of Violette, I can get it from TastingRoom for $73. Thats $12 less than the same wine on the Grgich Hills website, which is $85. I also found this tasting kit offered on the winery’s website, for $29.99. TastingRoom sells the kit for $24.99.
Yorkville Cellars‘ kit is made up of six Bordeaux varietals, from Cab Franc to Carmenere. Winery founder and winegrower Edward Wallo tells me his approach is to showcase these varietals that are the winery’s specialty, as Yorkville Cellars may be the only winery growing these six grape varieties in the same vineyard. They don’t blend, preferring to highlight the individual character of these classic varieties. We didn’t do this, but you could certainly have fun making your own Bordeaux blend from these samples. You can find the Yorkville sample kit on the winery website or in the tasting room for $34. (While this kit was made with TastingRoom, it is not sold on that site.)
Another idea for the kits is doing a blind tasting. I could go into all the mumbo jumbo about the technology TastingRoom uses to bottle these samples, green practices and about all the information about each wine and winery on its website, but you can check that out on your own. The kits come with descriptions and tasting notes. The company expects to add more wineries to their sample kit list.