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Expectorating is expected at wine-centric fundraisers

Charity Wine AuctionsIt’s charity fundraiser season, the time of year when wine enthusiasts have opportunities to match their passion for wine with helping their community.

Each year I find a few new pointers to add to our experience.

To spit or not to spit?

If you take any words of advice about events that explore hundreds of wines at one time, it would be to spit and spit often. Professional wine tasters discovered long ago that if you swallow every wine, by the time you reach sample No. 10 or so, you no longer have a professional opinion. Their discovery has made it very acceptable for anyone to spit.

Swallowing isn’t necessary to taste the wine fully. If you leave the wine in your mouth for eight to 10 seconds, you will taste the wine without the effects of the alcohol. Your goal for the large event is a tasting opportunity, not drinking everything in sight.

Spitting is part of the tasting process and not a social faux pas, so no need to be intimidated as you push your way through to the bucket.

Food and wine bliss

Many events will include the exploration of food and wine, either over a sit-down dinner or a casual walkaround. Take full advantage of this exploration of paradise.

Consider what it would take for you to re-create some of these tasting situations — hundreds of dollars worth of wines, several personal executive chefs and, more importantly, the cleanup. Savor the chance to make your own conclusions about wine and food pairings.

Not just another party

From my years of supporting and attending charity wine events, I know many times we forget sponsors behind the scenes supplying these tasting opportunities to our community. Each event isn’t just a few cases of wine, beer and food trays dropped off, but months of detailed planning by the distributors, retailers, restaurants, chefs and volunteers.

Take a moment to thank them for giving the community a tasting bonanza each year.

If you are looking to add tasting opportunities to your calendar, here are a few events:

  • Wildwood Wine and Food Festival, Friday, Wildwood Reserve Dinner, Sept. 28, for tickets call (501) 821-7275.
  • Arkansas Hospitality Association Culinary Classic, Tuesday, for more information call (501) 376-2323.
  • Taste of the Town, Sept. 27, proceeds support North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce educational programs, for more information call (501) 372-5959.
  • The Festival of Wines, Oct. 4, benefiting the American Heart Association, for tickets call (501) 379-1198.
  • Links and Drinks, Sept. 27, benefiting Potluck, a food rescue group, for tickets call (501) 371-0303.
  • Uncorked — The Mad Scientist Mash at the Museum of Discovery, Oct. 18, for tickets call (501) 396-7050.

Spit like you mean it at wine-tastings

by Carlo Bavagnoli

It’s the time of year when wine enthusiasts have opportunities to expand their horizons without leaving the state by attending various wine-tasting events. Which makes it an ideal time to review wine-tasting navigation — that is, how to deal with an overwhelming maze of wines.

Don’t forget to take a pen. Take notes to help you remember wines that you found interesting or a good value. There is no need for elaborate details; one can scribble notes on the list of wines printed in the program. And since you’re likely the only one who will look back on your notes, a smiley face, dollar sign or simple check mark works fine.

Spit like you mean it. If you take any words of advice on exploring hundreds of wines at one event, it would be to spit, and spit often. Your goal is to taste, not drink every wine. Spitting is part of the tasting process and not a social faux pas, so no need to be intimidated as you push your way to the spit bucket.

Don’t forget tasting basics. Smell the wine for certain aromas by holding the glass by the stem and placing your nose deep into the bowl of the glass. Swirl the wine around in your mouth to look for light versus heavy body, acid, sweetness and the tastes you notice.

Stay organized. Walking into an event and seeing numerous wines lining the tables can be intimidating. Organize by countries, wine producing regions or grape varieties. This allows you to taste and compare wines with similar characteristics.

If you are looking to add wine-tasting events to your calendar, here are some tastings scheduled in Arkansas:

  • Corks and Forks: Eating Well, Doing Good, Thursday; benefits Potluck Food Rescue; for details or tickets call (501) 371-0303.
  • The Festival of Wines, 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 7; benefits the American Heart Association; for details or tickets call (501) 379-1198.
  • 47th annual Wiederkehr Village Weinfest, Oct. 9; for details call (479) 468-9463.
  • Uncorked — Mad Scientist Mash at the Museum of Discovery, Oct. 21; for details or tickets call (501) 396-7050.

Developing a system enhances tasting

It’s the time of year when wine enthusiasts are given a rare opportunity to expand their horizons by leaps and bounds, all in the name of a good cause – local fundraising benefits with wine-tasting events.

Large tastings often leave most of us overwhelmed and confused. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of wines or feel compelled to taste each one. Most tasters will be able to explore and differentiate some 20 wines before their taste buds become tired.

There are many ways to take advantage of the wines being offered at one event. Rather than drifting from tasting sample to tasting sample, explore by regions, price or grape varieties. If you enjoy chardonnay, compare this grape in different regions and prices or find your own theme to explore in the sea of wine samples.

Keep track of what you’ve tasted by taking notes on your event program. You are the only person reviewing them, so there’s no need for fancy wine speak. Notes can be as simple as a check mark for favorites, a dollar sign for great values and explanation points beside exceptional wines.

I have said it many times, and it always needs repeating: If you take any words of wine tasting advice, it would be to spit, and spit often. The purpose of large wine events is tasting and not drinking.


  • Wild Wines of the World, 7 p.m. Saturday, Little RockZoo, 1 Jonesboro Drive, Little Rock, (501) 661-7208
  • Art of Wine Festival, multiple events, June 10-12, Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville (479) 443-5600
  • 12th Annual KUAF Wine Tasting, 5:30 p.m. June 17, Second Street Live, 711 Garrison Ave., Fort Smith, (479) 648-3993