You want to learn about wine? You enjoy trying new wines? You like to taste wine? I have the same answer for each question: go to tastings. Or host them yourself. But there's just no substitute for tasting a bunch of wines in a single setting.
One of the nice things about public tastings, put on as they are by big organizations or publications, is that they often allow you to taste wines that you might not get a chance to taste otherwise for some reason -- whether that is because of their cost, their small production levels, the bass ackwards liquor distribution system in your state, whatever.
Of course one of the other reasons you might not get a chance to taste certain wines is because they've been so highly rated by some magazine or critic that they're pretty hard to find on the shelves of even the best wine shops in the country. Which is one of the many reasons why it's always nice to attend the Wine and Spirits Top 100 Tasting each year.
Frankly, unlike some of the top XX lists that are put out every year, inclusion on the Wine and Spirits list doesn't virtually guarantee a spike in price and a disappearance from store shelves, so this isn't a tasting to attend purely for the scarcity of the wines. But every year there are some excellent wines on offer from all over the globe, and the food is pretty darn tasty as well.
Like all public tastings, it comes with problems of crowds, and occasionally the food from one vendor runs out, but this tasting in general I find to be pretty high quality, and the $100 price tag keeps it from becoming a Fort-Mason style mosh pit. In particular, I'm generally very impressed with the cheese and charcuterie on offer at this tasting.
The wine selection is a great breadth of global wines from the ultra premium to the hidden value, which means that it is possible (as I have done sometimes) to actually buy some of the better tasting wines that you experience.
Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Tasting
Wednesday, October 11th 6:00 - 8:30 PM
San Francisco Design Center
101 Henry Adams Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Tickets are $100 and MUST purchased in advance on the magazine's web site.
My usual tips for such public tastings apply: get a good night's sleep before, wear dark, comfortable clothes, go with food in your stomach, and for Pete's sake, SPIT!
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 4, 2015 Vinography Images: A Shaggy Guardian Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 26, 2015 Vinography Images: Above the Coast 2015 Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 6, San Francisco Imagining a Better Future for the Soils of Champagne A Brief Video Lesson in Champagne Disgorgement Vinography Images: The World of the Leaf Book Signing on May 9th, at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Doorman: Changing My Wine Delivery Life
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune