How to be a *WINNER* at WineX (In the social sense of the word)

Joburgers of all shapes and sizes are looking forward to WineX, taking place from 24th to 26th October 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre.  But whether you’re a serious buyer, a casual drinker or simply going to get spotted gallivanting with the ‘it’ crowd, there are some important things about wine tasting etiquette we all should know.

Tips from insiders:

1.  Avoid wearing perfume.  It is a bit bad mannered to douse yourself in a scent so strong that nobody around you can appreciate the aroma of the wine they are tasting.

2.  Try to hold your glass by the bottom or the stem – greasy finger-marks on the bulb of the glass is not a good look.

3.  If, for whatever reason, you are planning on using a spittoon, take your time and aim carefully.  Few people can make spitting look glamorous, but it is much less so when you miss the spittoon completely and the rest of us are left with soggy biscuits.

4.  And this brings me on to food – take care of your stomach.  It’s difficult to keep track of how much one is drinking when there is so much to taste.  Don’t be ‘that person’ who is carried out by rather irritated but obliging friends.

5.  Don’t ever drink and drive.

6.  Don’t steal bottles at the end of the show.  If an exhibitor offers you an open bottle, you should take it (and make sure it has a sticker or you won’t be allowed to take it out).  Don’t go around swiping bottles off unattended tables – it just isn’t the right thing to do.

7.  Generosity of spirit is a good ally in a crowded room where people are jostling for position all around you.

A plan for the evening

To make the most of your evening(s) at WineX, having a semblance of a plan is essential.  This is especially applicable to serious tasters and buyers, though it can really help anyone who is not enamoured with large crowds and pushy people.

1.  Book your tickets from Computicket in advance.  Fail to do so, and you may have to wait in a really long and frustrating queue – not worth it in my opinion.

2.  If you can, arrive early, as the show starts.  It will be relatively empty for the first hour or so, giving you some breathing space.

3.  Use your breathing space to taste those wines which are insanely popular (Galpin Peak, Vin De Constance, Ernie Els).  This is much better done at the beginning of the evening before it fills up – later on, the crowds around these tables may be so dense that fighting through them could become an unattractive proposition.

4.  Be random, but not too random.  You may decide to try all the MCCs on offer.  This doesn’t mean you can’t try anything else, it just directs your evening as you will deliberately seek out the producers who have MCC for tasting.  You never know what other gems you might find along the way.  You may have pre-selected 20 or 30 “Must Try” wines or you might be doing whites on the first night and reds on the second.  Some of the wealthier people I know love to taste seriously and buy an enormous quantity of wine on the first night – freeing up the second for a more relaxed tasting evening with friends.  Whatever your goal – have a vague plan – even if your plan is to just arb around.

5.  Book your favourite nearby restaurant for a post-Winex dinner with your friends.  By that time you will all need some solid sustenance and Sandton has a lot to offer.  It’s essential to book – because everyone is ravenous by then.  Book for 21h00 as the show ends at that time.

6. Last, but certainly not least, call Good Fellas or other car service to pick you up.  This year WineX has teamed up with Corporate Cabs.  To book a Corporate Cab for your evening either log onto the Corporate Cabs website (www.corporatecabs.co.za) and follow the WineX link, or phone the call centre on 0800 800 800.  This is another one which you should book in advance if you can.

My Must Try list

Here is a list of the 25 wines which I am planning on tasting this year (amongst many others).  It is a balance of old favourites and wines from some lesser known estates, but I am a bit partial to chardonnay, pinot and fizz as these are my absolute favourites!  Enjoy the festivities everyone!

      Champagne and MCC

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier NV  (Available at the Reciprocal Wines stand)

Simonsig, Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2007

Solms-Delta, Cape Jazz Shiraz N/V (Sparkling wine)

      Whites

The Bernard Series, Bernard Series Handpicked Viognier 2011

Cape Point Vineyards, Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011

Chamonix Wine Farm, Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve 2011

Delaire Graff, Delaire Coastal Cuvée 2011 (Sauvignon Blanc)

Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2011

Ken Forrester The FMC (Chenin) 2010

Strandveld Wines, Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Tokara, Tokara Director’s Reserve White 2011

      Rosé and Blanc de Noir

De Grendel, De Grendel Rosé 2012

Peter Falke Wines, PF Blanc de Noir 2012

      Reds

Ashbourne, Ashbourne 2007

Cape Chamonix Wine Farm, Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve 2011

Idiom Wines, Sangiovese 2008

KWV, KWV Shiraz Reserve 2009

La Vierge, La Vierge Noir 2010

Louis Latour Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2010 (Available at the Reciprocal Wines stand)

Meinert, Meinert Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Rijk’s Private Cellar, Rijk’s Estate ‘The Master’ 2007

Southern Right, Southern Right Pinotage 2010

      Ports and Dessert Wines

Vergenoegd Wine Estate, Vergenoegd Old Cape Colony Cape Vintage Port 2005

Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance 2007

Mulderbosch, Mulderbosch Noble Late Harvest 2008