Expert chimes in on making the most of your festival wine tasting

Savannah Morning News, 06 Nov 2013

The Savannah Food and Wine Festival will kick off at 5 p.m. Nov. 11 with the Farm to Table Wine Dinner at Bethesda Academy.

The event will feature Chef Elizabeth Terry and Master Sommelier Robert Jones, national account manager at Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., as well as local chefs and the homegrown bounty from Bethesda students.

The festival should prove to be a fun experience filled with delicious chef-crafted dishes and an almost endless array of rare and hard-to-find wines and other spirits.
Jones’ schedule

Farm to Table Wine Dinner, 5 p.m. Nov. 11, Bethesda Academy.

Movie screening, “SOMM” the documentary, presented by Big Green Egg and Beringer. 6 p.m. Nov. 12, Savannah Theatre.

Seasonal Holiday Values Wine Tasting, 11:15-12:30 p.m. Nov. 15, International Trade & Convention Center.

But perhaps you’re a little overwhelmed by the grandness of it all and are afraid to make a fool of yourself at a wine tasting event.

That’s OK; it’s always a little nerve-wracking to try something new.

Jones, who is scheduled to be at several wine tasting events at the festival, offers expert advice so you can step out with confidence and enjoy these world-class tasting events and not let the festival pass you by.

“First of all, ask yourself why you are shy,” Jones said.

He added that to go to an event, it takes money, time and interest, so if you have all of those things and you’re still not sure about going to a tasting, then you should “ask yourself what’s holding you back. Don’t let shyness keep you at home.”


The basics

Jones lays out the basics of a walk-around wine tasting:

Come with an open mind. “Professionals are in charge of these events, and they want you have fun and have the opportunity to eat delicious foods and drink some great wines.”

Come prepared. “Don’t go to a tasting on an empty stomach.”

Don’t get tipsy. “This is a tasting, not a drinking. That is very important. You are expected to sip and spit it out. It’s irresponsible to drink as much wine as is offered at a large walk-around tasting. Also, be sure to drink lots of water during the event.”

Let the server be in charge. “The person behind the table, who is a professional, not a servant, will pour a certain amount of wine – usually no more than 1 ounce of wine. Don’t tell them to pour you more – that is very rude. Never say, ‘That’s enough,’ or clink your glass for more. It’s rude to say, ‘Go ahead and fill that glass all the way up.’”

“It’s fine to pour out the rest of your glass, but it’s not okay to reject the wine and say, ‘I don’t want that,’ or ‘I don’t drink white wine.’ Accept the tasting from the server and be polite. You are there to try new things.”

Follow the order of the tasting. “Don’t tell the server which wine you want first. The wines are in order for a reason, so progress as instructed. Everything is chosen for a reason.”

Don’t be a know-it-all. “No one knows it all. Be polite to people. Don’t treat the servers like servants. Be nice. Smile and say thank you.”


Mind your manners

Jones said the most important thing to remember when you go to a tasting is to “be a good human being.”

He also said it’s important for the community to support the festival so it will come back next year.

“This is the first one, so it will set precedence,” he said. “It will only grow if it’s supported.

“The first year is really important — I love being a part of events like this.

“Everyone needs to understand this festival is filled with a lot of professional people giving up a lot of their time. No one is getting paid here; we do it because we love it.”

And Jones said if you see him walking around the festival, feel free to chat with him and ask some questions.

“I’m scheduled for several events, but I’ll be walking around tasting wines and meeting people, as well,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

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