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Monday 11 October 2021

How online tastings have become the new normal

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, online wine and food tastings were a virtually unknown concept. 

Over the past 18 months I've done dozens of Zoom tastings - offering the chance to chat with winemakers and chat with fellow communicators while tasting new releases without travel. 

It's not quite the same as checking out the vineyards and enjoying the wines in situ with local food. But it is certainly a good alternative. 

Rather than flying across the country for a tasting you save hours of time. 

And it is also true that virtual tutored tastings have become popular with wine drinkers and home cooks. 

With many employees in the corporate sector now choosing to work from home on a permanent or hybrid basis, virtual wine experiences have become a favoured activity for teams to re-connect and unwind in a relaxed online setting.

“Online wine tastings were the silver lining for Australian wineries during the pandemic and it's clear they're here to stay,” says Kate Shilling, executive officer of Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia.

“With Aussies unable to visit their favourite wineries, this allows the winery to meet them in their own homes, with virtual tastings becoming a popular way for businesses of all sizes to incentivise their employees and provide effective team bonding opportunities.”

Katrina Pizzini (above), from Pizzini Wines in Victoria's King Valley, runs wine tastings and Italian cooking classes via video conferencing and believes these types of virtual activities break up the mundane for corporate teams, allowing employees to learn a new skill, sample great wine and have some fun.

“We had never run any online wine tastings or cooking classes prior to the pandemic. In fact, the closest we came was conducting job interviews via Skype,” says Katrina.

“When the pandemic hit, it quickly became clear that there was a need for friends, families and colleagues to communicate and interact with each other in a meaningful, Covid-safe way.”

In addition to regular virtual wine tastings, Katrina runs online cooking classes through the Pizzini A tavola! cooking school, where she teaches the art of making the perfect pasta, gnocchi and risotto in real time.

“We have run cooking classes for groups that incorporate as few as six households, and up to 35 households at a time, with each one receiving an ingredients pack in the mail beforehand, including produce, essential utensils and Pizzini wine,” says Katrina.

“While we can't wait for visitors to fill our cellar door, we know that the convenience and cost-effectiveness of online winery experiences will remain a relevant part of our offering.”


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