Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Signs of Fall: Portfolio Tastings

‘Tis the season for distributor portfolio tastings.  These always seem very glamorous – I get to leave the confines of the store and head to a restaurant, a bar, or a cool event space and drink wine! During the day! While other people are toiling away in their offices!

Except it’s not so glamorous. I’m not drinking wine… I’m tasting it. Which means I’m constantly angling for a straight shot at the spit bucket. Which often involves bobbing and weaving and trying to time the spit stream so it doesn’t land on someone’s head as they go in for the bucket without noticing that I’m just about to do the same. And that assumes there’s a bucket in spitting distance. If there isn’t, the successful spit requires you to pick up the bucket, bring it near enough to spit, and then maneuver it back to its original spot. Which is especially fun when the bucket is dangerously full. And you’re trying to hold your tasting book, your glass, your pen, your tasting book… and maybe check your email messages. Definitely not glamorous.

Except sometimes, it is.

Like today, at the Wineberryr held at 5 Beekman. This is an old, fabulously decaying downtown building that was recently sold and will soon begin conversion into luxury hotel status. I could say more, but we’ll go straight to the pictures – because this was easily the most photographed portfolio tasting site in the history of all portfolio tastings.

Stepping off the elevator, this is the first thing you see:

Pretty much every person in attendance took a picture of this:

 Then we all looked up and took a picture of this:

 Five stories above:

And at the bottom, a piano.... 

A baby grand piano, to be specific.

The wines were arranged in the rooms that surrounded this courtyard. The piano below was being played, so music would waft up through the atrium. You just sort of wandered from room to room, tasting as you went. There was a separate room for sweet wines and spirits, a food room, a room with video playing of winemaker interviews. And there were plenty of spit buckets.

I arrived late, as the tasting was wrapping up. So while the oysters (yes, there were oysters) had just run out, there was still plenty of wine to try - and I had some of the back rooms pretty much to myself. Like the Champagne room...

.... I wandered into this set up at the very end: a table of half empty bottles of Champagne, sitting on ice, just begging to be tried. Who was I to resist? Chilled Champagne, a view of the city, music drifting in from the rooms beyond...

OK, ok...I will admit it. Sometimes, just once in a while, these tastings can be fairly glamorous.

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