Thursday, November 4, 2010

Consumer Friendly Wine Events

"Welcome to our event - would you like to learn about your taste sensitivity and how it affects your wine preferences?"

Imagine showing up at a wine event and you are met by someone who asks you a simple set of questions that helps you discover your Taste Sensitivity Quotient (TasteSQ) to determine if you are a Sweet, Hyper-sensitive, Sensitive or Tolerant taster. The wines are then set up in the room grouped by flavor categories: Sweet, Delicate, Smooth and Intense providing a means for the guests to zero in on the wines you are most likely to adore.

A similar format is used to add a new dimension to a wine dinner: a minimum of four wines are offered simultaneously across the range of flavor categories: sweet, delicate, smooth and intense. The wines are poured at the beginning of the meal and served with every course. This allows the guest to try them all and determine which they like best, not fearing the one they love will be whisked away at the end of a course. Tolerant tasters who love intense red wine are free to dive right in, sweet wine lovers get to enjoy their sweet wine throughout the meal and everyone gets to explore any or all of the wines with every dish.

Here are a few things we have discovered over the past 3 years of adding the TasteSQ dimension to different tastings and dinners:
  1. Many attendees immediately gain a sense of confidence and spirit to explore new wines.
  2. Couples and friends often discover that different taste sensitivities are the source of their disagreements (or agreements) over wine styles.
  3. What we categorize as 'disenfranchised' consumers (mostly Sweet and Hyper-sensitive tasters) learn that their inherent wine preferences come from having more taste buds and their attitude is positively and immediately transformed. Young wine drinkers feel especially empowered.
  4. Having the wines grouped into flavor categories ensures a better mix of wine styles for an event. This helps to avoid the 'big red' syndrome and balances out the offerings so that there is more variety.
  5. Vintners who are pouring their wines get the gist of this really quickly and get to frame their talking points in a personalized fashion while learning how their wines are received by the different TasteSQ groups. We get wonderful feedback about the insights this provides for them.
At the Lodi Spring Wine Show we train members of the Lodi Tokay Rotary to conduct the TasteSQ interview (you can try it at and assess hundreds of attendees who then get a sticker that declares their Taste Sensitivity group. This new process is now part and parcel of every event and wine dinner I organize.

Discovering something about yourself, and others, is always a great way to engage people and to generate conversations and camaraderie. The dynamics at a dinner table when everyone is wearing their TasteSQ badge is lively, inclusive and provides a fun topic for lively discussion. For more information on this type of event and background on Taste Sensitivity Quotient you can also visit

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