Charity wine tastings are odd events for the beverage enthusiast. At first glance, the concept sounds pretty good. A fee is paid up front, and then the enthusiast has access to dozens of wines!
The logistics are somewhat more complicated than that, of course. The recommended donation amount varies, or there may be several donation levels: Donating at a higher level may yield access to reserve wines, special meals, and whatnot.
The reality is somewhat more complicated. The best wines may be exhausted quickly at a tasting, so arrive early. The unfortunate other truth is that a lot of the best wines benefit from several hours of being open. So maybe arrive late unless there’s a chance the organizers and distributors will open their wines early and let them breathe?
I may have gotten ahead of myself. Here’s how a charity wine tasting works: The distributors come in and pour wines. They generally do this with no charge to the charity or organizer. They do this because they sell wine through the organizer at the end of the event; their presence has little to do with charity.
So that brings us to phase two of the charity wine event: The goal is to get people as drunk as possible, to give them an order form, and for them to buy wine in quantity. Some portion of the proceeds of the wine sales are then given to charity. Sometimes it is all of the proceeds, but this is not a given.
So here’s the problem with the charity wine tasting: It’s full of other people. Even if one is not antisocial, this presents numerous issues:
- They are all stupendously drunk. They will bump into you, spill wine on you, spill wine all over, and otherwise try to engage with you in unpleasant ways.
- Half of them are inevitably wearing strong helpings of cologne or perfume. Tasting critically is impossible.
- The dump buckets get blocked, making spitting impossible. It probably doesn’t help that you are inevitably the only person spitting.
- They are loud and pushy. They will inevitably interrupt any conversations about the wine itself.
So, can these things be fun? Sure. They’re just not particularly useful from the standpoint of actually trying and evaluating wines. For that it helps to get snuck into an industry tasting or organize something privately.