Updated: Aug 13
One of the most fun ways to learn about and taste some of the best wines in the world is to attend a high-end wine tasting event. These sophisticated experiences bring together exceptional wines from the world’s best wine-growing regions. While these events are not inexpensive, they provide good value for the money.
One of the best-known and most popular of these events is Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour. In 2022 it will be held in three cities: Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and Hollywood, Florida.
Wine With Our Family recently had the opportunity to catch up with Bruce Sanderson, Senior Editor of the renowned magazine Wine Spectator, to learn more about attending this high-end wine tasting event.
Wine With Our Family: What is the Grand Tour and why is it unique?
Bruce Sanderson: Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour will feature 220 wineries from great wine regions around the world, each pouring an outstanding wine that our editors rated 90 points or higher in blind tastings. Our priority is to educate our readers about wine and these events bring the magazine and our tasting program to life for attendees.
What makes this event unique is that each winery will pour one wine only — a top selection — and many of the winemakers will be on hand to interact with attendees. There will also be some older vintages, giving wine lovers an opportunity to taste bottles with limited availability.
WWOF: How long has the Grand Tour been in existence?
BS: The debut Grand Tour was in 2002; next year, 2023, will be the 20th anniversary because the event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, there were as many as 244 wineries, depending on the capacity of the individual venues in each city.
WWOF: Why should someone attend it?
BS: For the ticket price of $275, or $375 for the extra VIP hour, one can easily taste the equivalent of $2,500 retail price in wines if you sample a dozen bottles. Plus, you can engage with winemakers or owners in attendance. That’s both a great learning experience and value.
WWOF: Has the event changed due to COVID and if so, how?
We invited fewer wineries to allow for more space and personal spittoons are provided to discourage using communal spittoons. We follow local city guidance in each venue.
WWOF: How would an attendee get the most out of the event?
BS: Plan ahead. There is a list of wineries available online at http://grandtour.winespectator.com and once you arrive, it pays off to spend 10 minutes reviewing the map and planning your tasting strategy. The room is organized by varietals (or blends) so that a guest that enjoys Pinot Noirs can taste several in a row from different terroirs and compare and contrast. The same is true for Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Prioritize your favorites and visit them first. I also recommend looking for older vintages that will be more difficult to find later at retail.
WWOF: If someone has attended in the past, should he/she attend again?
BS: The wineries and the wines they pour change from year to year, though there are many perennial favorites. It’s impossible to taste all 220 wines offered, so yes, every Grand Tour offers a wealth of new experiences. Many people look forward to attending year after year!
WWOF: Are there certain things an attendee should not do when attending the event?
BS: To get the most out of the experience, I highly recommend you begin by tasting, then spitting the wines. This will keep your palate fresh and allow you to try more wines.
We hope that these insights about how to get the most out of attending a high-end wine tasting event help you choose and plan your experience.
Have you ever attended a wine tasting like Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour? If so, do you have any advice? Don’t hesitate to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Wine Spectator. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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