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We live in virtual times, and wineries, brands, and industry pros have adapted accordingly. While there’s nothing quite like an in-person wine tasting, having the option to do so from the comfort of your own home (and on your own time) certainly has its appeal.
With a bit of planning, you can now access a variety of wine tasting experiences at different price points. Simply choose a tasting format that fits your needs, buy your wines in advance, and tune in at your scheduled time (or via social media, if the video is available there). The best part? No dress code is required. Here are some of the most exciting virtual wine tastings to try at home.
The 7 Best Virtual Wine Tastings of 2020
Best Overall: Wine.com
Wine.com is home to an ongoing calendar of free wine tasting events. All you need to do is buy the wine corresponding to your tasting of choice ahead of time, register for the free event via the website, and you’ll receive instructions and login information for the virtual tasting, which is held webinar-style via Zoom.
And, if something happens to come up (since we’re all so busy these days) and you can’t make the live tasting after you’ve signed up and purchased the wines, don’t fret: You can watch the whole tasting afterward on YouTube.
Wine.com’s past events have highlighted interesting themes and people, including biodynamic wines with revered French winemakers and sustainability trailblazers Gérard Bertrand and Michel Chapoutier, a Mother’s Day weekend special hosted by Lisa Vanderpump and daughter Pandora Vanderpump, Sabo (the duo showcased their own wines), Antinori’s World of Wines, rosés with John Legend and wine entrepreneur Jean-Charles Boisset, and even a deep dive into Invivo X, hosted by owner and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. The events page is updated regularly, so check it out to stay in the loop.
Again, the tastings themselves are free, but the cost of the accompanying wines depends on them (for example, the two SJP wines for the Invivo X tasting cost around $39, plus shipping and tax).
Best Value: Seneca Lake Wine Trail
With Seneca Lake Wine Trail’s wine tasting events, you can embark on a scenic road trip of the Finger Lakes wine country from the comfort of your home (without having to enlist the help of a designated driver).
The region’s calendar is a robust one, featuring many different events like traditional virtual tastings, Facebook Live concerts (with wine, of course), interviews with winemakers, wine vlogs, happy hours, and more. Through these digital gatherings, guests will discover local producers and their areas of expertise, like Rieslings, special edition beers, and more.
If you’re looking to support small businesses (and have fun with a side of education in the process), this is a great route to take. There’s a good chance you’ll be inspired to plan a future road trip along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail after your virtual tasting or event, so keep your notebook handy.
There’s usually no cost for the event itself, but if you want to buy the wines ahead of time to taste along, just follow the link provided on the site's event listing.
Most Customizable: Priority Wine Pass
Napa-based wine club Priority Wine Pass has joined forces with a number of wineries throughout California, Oregon, and Virginia to bring a variety of tasting experiences to members’ homes.
These tastings are an excellent option if you’re looking for something personalized and private, either as a date night, a get-together with friends, or a remote team-building activity with colleagues or clients.
Simply head to the website to choose from a menu of participating wineries (most of which offer a variety of different themed packages), and from there, you’ll be placed directly in the winemaker’s hands to get your tasting set up.
The Priority Wine Pass virtual tasting roster includes Prime Solum, Expression 38°, Tetra, Brigitte, and Courtesan in Napa Valley, Boeschen Vineyards in St. Helena, Durst Winery in Lodi, J. Cage Cellars in Sonoma, Brandborg Vineyard & Winery in Oregon, Horton Vineyards in Virginia, and more.
One of the main perks of Priority Wine Pass is consistent discounts, so you’ll be paying less than retail price no matter which package you choose. These tastings start around $50 and increase from there.
Best for Natural Wines: Orange Glou
New York-based sommelier extraordinaire Doreen Winkler is on a mission to bring her love of orange wines to the masses. Thanks to her, one of the most exciting wine subscriptions out there is entirely dedicated to the category.
Each Monday evening, Winkler personally hosts a free tasting session with guest winemakers via Instagram Live, usually covering wines from members’ subscription boxes and incorporating other fun, tangential subjects. One day you'll get a tutorial on making your own wine vinegar, and another time you'll be treated to a preview of prospective bottle selects for future boxes. It’s a great added perk for members.
If you’re curious about joining, but want to learn a bit more about the concept and orange wines in general, you can always tune into Winkler’s past videos via the club’s Instagram (these are posted to the feed after the live sessions). Orange Glou memberships start at around $105 per month, and you can always purchase one-off boxes on the website, either for yourself or as a gift.
Most Philanthropic: Far Niente Winery
Far Niente, a Napa Valley fine winery founded in 1885, offers a variety of custom online tastings to accompany its standout wines (the brand is perhaps best known for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon).
To book a virtual wine tasting reservation for between one and 20 guests, you can make a reservation online, and from there, you’ll receive word on your corresponding wine order and shipping details. (If more than one household is involved, the wines will be delivered to each doorstep).
These tastings are guided by one of Far Niente’s wine educators. During the sessions, you’ll learn about the specific wines you’re enjoying, and you’ll also have the opportunity to ask any and all questions, leaving you with a more robust knowledge of the subject than you had before.
The virtual tasting is complimentary with the cost of the wines; pricing will be confirmed upon your reservation booking, but for perspective, a red and white wine tasting for two guests with three bottles is roughly $168.
Best on Social Media: Wine With Chas
On a biweekly basis, Chicago-based wine journalist Chasity Cooper takes to IGTV and her blog to share her love and knowledge of wines with viewers everywhere.
So far, her relatable, at-home tasting videos have covered great wines for movie night, budget-friendly sparkling wines, a variety of fun Italian wines, a selection of noteworthy bottles from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and more. This format is a bit different from the others on this list in the sense that Cooper is, in a way, trying before you buy.
She’ll take you through a tasting and let you know where to get the wines for yourself afterward, if you’re so inclined, and will set you up for success in conducting your own tasting once you receive them. Plus, you can always queue up her video again if you’d like to taste alongside her.
This is a laidback series of approachable tastings, featuring a fun selection of wines with a dash of great personality. You can head to Cooper’s Instagram or her blog to check out past episodes and wait for new ones to go live. Cooper’s videos are free, but of course, prices vary if you wish to purchase any wines.
Best for Sparkling Wines: Chandon
Sparkling wine enthusiasts rejoice: Chandon has launched a series of virtual tastings available to both club members and non-members alike, focusing on wines from the brand's shipment of the month (which you can purchase individually for tastings available to non-members).
Chandon’s April tasting, which you can access publicly now via its website and watch while sipping the Virtual Wine Tasting Volume 1 pack, features Head Winemaker Pauline Lhote covering her and the brand's backstory. Meanwhile, she'll take you through the winemaking process and a dive into three wines: Chandon Brut and a duo of winery exclusives (Reserve Blanc de Blancs and the Vintage Yountville Brut 2015).
Virtual wine tastings showcase wines featured that month. You can sign up for Chandon’s email list on the brand's website (you’ll receive a Zoom meeting invite and information on the wines), or you can join via Facebook Live.
The publicly available tastings carry no cost, but in terms of bottle pricing, you can purchase them individually or buy the full set featured in the tasting (all of the Volume 1 bottles cost about $110, plus shipping). Club members pay $130 per wine shipment (six deliveries a year), and they receive discounts on bottle purchases.
How We Chose the Best Virtual Wine Tastings
In selecting the best options available, we chose from several great wineries and brands across the country, big and small, keeping in mind that catering to different budgets is necessary. We wanted to keep options diverse, so you can splurge on an at-home wine tasting if that’s your M.O., but you can also have the option to indulge without breaking the bank. If you're looking to treat yourself to a luxe virtual wine tasting, Far Niente Winery is a great option. If a more affordable option is what you're seeking, Wine With Chas and Seneca Lake Wine Trail's free tastings are available.