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Elizabeth Wellington: How to put on your own virtual wine tasting

By Elizabeth Wellington, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

I miss having drinks with the girls.

Sure, I've been to my share of virtual happy hours, but six months into the pandemic they are pretty boring. Part of the fun of sitting at the bar with the girls is dishing over heavy pours. In the age of the coronavirus, we've got nothing to dish about.

Maybe I should use this time with friends - and oenophiles - to educate myself about wine, rather than gossip over it. I'm ready to elevate my palate. Perhaps I should host my own virtual wine tasting?

This is not a novel idea. Wineries have been hosting virtual tastings since the onset of the pandemic to drive business, according to Wine Enthusiast Magazine. But based on anecdotal evidence, most of us are having wine tastings for strictly social reasons. And that was a good enough reason for me to seek an expert to help me plan my own virtual wine tasting.

Here's how it went, and how you can plan your own.

I connected with Mary Ewing-Mulligan, a Bucks County-bred, and Penn graduate and the president of the International Wine Center in New York. Ewing-Mulligan is also the first American woman to earn the prestigious title of Master of Wine. A master of wine understands the science behind the wine. She studies wine the same way psychologist studies the brain and behavior. Ewing-Mulligan, who has co-authored several books in the Wine For Dummies series with her husband, Ed McCarthy.



Ewing-Mulligan suggested a a red, white and rose. The white was a Louis Jadot 2019 Bourgogne Chardonnay, produced in Burgundy. Ewing-Mulligan's eyes twinkled when she told us the chardonnay from Burgundy, one of the premiere regions of wine production in France. "A chardonnay is a good, solid, reliable wine that people can find anywhere," Ewing said. The rose was courtesy of Marques de Caceres Rose from Rioja, Spain. Roses are having a moment, so that makes them an excellent choice. And finally, the red: a blend of merlot and cabernet franc from Chteau Lassegue, a vintage blend.

I invited my mom and sister to the tasting. Ewing-Mulligan instructed us start with light to heavy. (But you can also drink in order from dry to sweet or least expensive to more expensive depending on the theme. )

We each poured four ounces of wine into the glass. Swirled it. When you swirl the wine, the scent is released, Ewing-Mulligan said. And then we took a sniff. Discussion ensued. We agreed the chardonnay smelled like green apples, and we enjoyed its silky texture and full body. It featured a citrusy finish that lingered in the back of our throats. The chardonnay was my mother's favorite, surprising because she doesn't really like wine (she prefers beer) and when she does drink wine, it's prosecco in mimosas. (You learn something new every day.)


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