What do the Wine Media Conference “speed tasting” sessions and the World Blind Wine Tasting Championship have in common? In both, participants have eight minutes to figure out a wine! The big difference? Actually they really are opposite: At the Wine Media Conference 2021 event, someone told us about the wine and we had eight minutes to come up with our assessment, and hopefully tweet, post, publish about it while at the World Wine Tasting Championships, in those same eight minutes we must figure out the grape, country, region, year, and producer on our own — with our team.
In the past, during the speed tasting, we had only five minutes with each wine before they had to hustle to the next table to give their pitch and answer questions. I’ve participated in these in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Read my post about the event in 2014 “#WBC14 Built for Speed (Tasting): Roses, White, Sparkling Wines.”
But with COVID, we all tasted the same wines which were set on the table while the wineries took turns talking to all of us using a microphone– and the wineries had eight minutes to pitch us.
Because of COVID, in 2020 there were changes to how the Wine Tasting Championship is organized as well including having everyone taste all 12 wines to a finals round where only the top teams taste all the wines. Also in 2020 and 2021, while other countries held competitions to determine their teams, in the US, Wine Acuity names the team based on finalists in previous years… that means I’ve technically been on the team for three years now (2019, 2020, and now 2021 but it has not been publicized who will actually be competing in France in 2021.
In both events there’s strategies. How do you manage your time? Your glasses — when the next wine comes out and you have to decide what to do with the wine in your glass (especially if it tastes really good?) How do you take notes? What do you note? For speed tasting, do you take notes electronically on laptop or phone or on paper? Do you try to include media? Do you switch strategies midway?
A huge difference is that one is individual compared to a team event: at the US Open Wine Tasting Championships teams of two compete for a place, and in France, teams of four compete to win the world title. Ideally, teams know each other, have experience tasting together, and can help each other. Unfortunately, in 2019 the first time we ever tasted together blind was in France DURING the competition! No practices were held in 2020 for the selected top finalists for the team, and so far none have been held in 2021. That’s why our pairs of teams have done better in the US Open than the USA teams have done in global competition. Read more about practices some of us have held in 2021 and in 2020 to prepare to compete as a team of four women. Note: the team was named on the website on July 5, then taken down. There’s quite a bit of confusion and concern about who is and who is not competing in France For Team USA.
In contrast, the Live Wine Social is only competitive against time and with yourself rather than with other people in the room although all the positive elements of being on a team are there like camaraderie and helping each other out with information and insights.
This year, I just wasn’t quite up to speed (pun intended!) as the event began, and I was trying to figure out my method. Here’s how I did at the 2021 13th edition of the Wine Media Conference’s Live Wine Social – White/Rosé; red wines up next!
2019 Longevity Ramato Pinot Grigio SRP $25
available online and at winery
2020 Troon Amber
- blend of riesling and vermentino
- biodynamic certified in the winery and in the vineyard
- demeter is proactive method of adding probiotics to the vineyard
- 3 weeks on skins
- moving to ingredient labeling
- regenerative agriculture certification
Benton Lane Chardonnay SRP $30
- warm vintage
- 13.4% ABV
- block D SE facing
- all estate fruit
Brooks Ara SRP $38
- Biodynamic certified
- Jimi Brooks emphatic about restoring the reputation of riesling in OR
- Ara is a constellation
- the orobouros is a symbol of life
- Jimi had this as a tattoo
Rodney Strong 2020 rose of Pinot Noir
- 12.55 ABV
- SRP $25
- light fresh ocean breeze strawberry watermelon jolly rancher
- white peach palate
As you can see from the time stamps on the tweets, this event moves fast and furious but it’s fun!
Live Wine Social Sponsors: White/Rosé Wine Friday, August 6, 2021
- Benton-Lane Winery | @bentonlanewinery
- Brooks Winery | @brookswinery
- Longevity Wines | @longevity_wines
- Rodney Strong | @rsvineyards
- Troon Vinevary | @troonwines
And a special thanks to my tablemates for joining in the fun with me by wearing these cork tiaras by Wine Tasting Team USA member Lisa Stoll!
2021 was my ninth year to attend– 10 if we count last year’s virtual conference! Read my highlights from last year’s virtual conference, #WMC20: