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Tasting Stories: A Wine Education for Teachers in Virginia

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to Host a Traveling Vineyard wine tasting? Our Tasting Stories bring you inside real wine tasting events and tell you what made them memorable and fun for Hosts and Guests! Tasting Stories are inspired by Five-Star reviews submitted by real Hosts.

Teaching a room full of teachers might seem intimidating, but when the subject is wine and you’ve got a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide in the house, it’s engaging, fun and educational. Just ask Host Karen Conboy of Centreville, Virginia.

Karen, a high school anatomy teacher, connected with Wine Guide Gina Devine while attending a Traveling Vineyard wine tasting at a friend’s house. She decided to host her own in-home wine tasting because she was, “so impressed with the education behind the pairing of food and wine.” She has since hosted two events!

It was the educational aspect that hooked her, Karen says. Tasting experiments, such as the “jelly bean” test and the “lemon-grape” demo, are two ways Wine Guide Gina introduces the concept of food and wine pairing at her tastings. Both resonated with Karen, who conducts a taste/smell lab (with jelly beans!) in her classroom. “The relationship between these two senses and how we drink wine just amazes me.” Gina delivered the information in an accessible way, which Karen appreciated. “Gina was so knowledgeable but not judgmental, as one could feel in certain upscale wineries or restaurants.”

Karen also enjoyed the demonstrations of what wine drinkers do to “ruin” the taste of wine by eating foods that are not well matched to their wine. “Biologically, it makes sense!”

Her first tasting experience was so impactful, Karen wanted to share it with others. “Plus, Gina’s personality is such that she really brings life into the gathering.”

After a successful tasting with family, Karen decided to host again with friends. At her most recent tasting, she invited teacher friends, and, to mix things up, the foods were brunch-themed.

She says Gina made it easy to organize, choose pairings, and invite friends—despite Karen not being on social media. Gina selected wines that Karen did not try at her first tasting in an effort to keep the wine education fresh and exciting. And, as for teaching a room of teachers, Karen says that Gina nailed it.

“I recognize facing a room of teachers can be tough, but she was awesome. Engaging, funny and educational.”

Like Karen, her friends were pleasantly surprised by their “a-ha” moments. “I sat next to a friend, another biology teacher, and a red wine was poured and she was going to pass on it because she typically doesn’t like reds.” Karen encouraged her to try a little bit, knowing that the food pairing would offer a completely different experience. “So she did pour some, and with the food, she drank it and liked it enough to say that she would think twice about ordering a glass of wine out with dinner the next time.”

Gina says that Karen had a great group of friends at the tasting. “We were all gathered around her dining room table, the sun was shining and there were great conversations, laughs and wine.”

For an extra touch, the crowd enjoyed mimosas made with our Fissata Blonde.

But the biggest hit was the wine wisdom. “Everyone was taken aback that we were pairing these wines with breakfast foods, and I just loved seeing the shocked faces when the pairings worked,” Gina says.

The ease of scanning the bottle label or going to the website is fun and gets me to try both new wines and new foods!

Karen says all her guests were “impressed and admitted to learning something new.”

They are now enjoying their Traveling Vineyard wine at home. Karen says it’s great having bottles on hand to give as gifts for impromptu dinner gatherings—and that she enjoys the opportunity to share the wine wisdom she learned from Gina when the wine is opened.

“I also am more conscientious about which bottle I’m opening depending on what I’m eating. I do enjoy most wines, so now I will try to pick a specific wine to go with the meal. The ease of scanning the bottle label or going to the website is fun and gets me to try both new wines and new foods!”

Karen has her next tasting on the calendar for August. It will be her third event. Are you thinking about hosting a Traveling Vineyard wine tasting? Here are Karen’s top tips!

  1. Use the suggested recipes to make food prep simple.
  2. Trust your Wine Guide’s suggestions on pairings. But, don’t hesitate to ask about a dietary restriction or something else.
  3. Buy an extra bottle to have on hand to enjoy at your party after the wine tasting!
  4. Choose a theme. It is quite easy to pick several wines that fit into a theme.
  5. Keep it simple. Having only one food per wine seems like it won’t be enough, but it is!
  6. Follow your Wine Guide’s lead, and if your Guests haven’t been to a true tasting before, send out info about what to expect ahead of time. Your Wine Guide can help you with this.
  7. Ask all the questions you have!
  8. Have FUN!

Submit a Host Inquiry today, and let’s get your wine education started!

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