I'm fairly new to the wine business and undoubtedly rather green. Having just been put in charge of sales and marketing for a wine company in Shanghai (still not sure how I managed to blag that one!) I'm interested to hear from anyone who's set up small to medium-sized tastings for, say, 30-50 people. Have a rough idea of what I'm going to do but any advice would be much appreciated
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Originally posted by Hunter:
I heard bad things about Chinese wines on OZ board, too much polution in the air affecting wine growing regions. Is it true?

I think he just quit. Smile

even before the wisdom of how to make a small fortune in wine business was shared????
Fear not, The Oracle has returned! Not sure I've any words of wisdom on how to make quick money in wine unfortunately. I'm only selling imported stuff, almost all New World excepting a small Portugese contingent. As for Chinese wines the quality is rising though in my experience still lagging. One I'd recommend is Grace Vineyards 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, and easy-drinking wine if you like your reds with lots of American oak. Still, it's marketed at Western prices (6 pounds/$11) and you can find better for the money. Don't know about the pollution issue but it doesn't sound far-fetched.

To actually answer your question, instead of spouting more drivel than necessary, I have a few recommendations;

Much of your tasting is obviously going to be reliant on the wineries you are representing. You have indicated the number of guests you want to serve, but not the number of wines being poured. That is a huge factor. I have arranged tastings of as little as six wines for a hundred people and tastings of as many as 200 wines for 2,000 people. Logistics is the key.

The number of wines poured will determine if you want to arrange a more intimate, sit-down tasting or a larger tasting where your guests roam from table to table. Will you have representatives from the wineries there to discuss the wine? What is the purpose of the tasting (to educate on the specific wine or more as a social gathering)? If full education is the key, than I would recommend keeping the tastings smaller and more frequent. There is nothing worse than trying to learn about four dozen wines in two hours when doing one dozen for one hour once a week for a month would have been more instructional.

Water. Spit buckets. Note pads. GOOD glasses. White table cloths (to look at the wine). Bright, natural lighting (can't tell you how many tastings I've been to with "mood" lighting). Pads to take notes. Information on the wine (not the PR stuff as much as the production information).

I hope this opens more questions about setting up a tasting -- vs. the pithy comments that seem to abound on this site... Confused

I'll be blunt and to the point. Your best bet is to contact other wine companies and/or importers in Shaghai whom you have good relationship with and find out how their tasting is conducted and how effective the event was.

You will get plenty of suggestions from folks on this board, most of them will be good advice and useful, in United States or most other wine educated countries.

The basics such as number of people, wines poured, stemware...etc, these are universal. However, to have a truly well run tasting in Shanghai, simply transplant American wine tasting is not going to work, period.

Good luck in your planning, check with the local folks and you may get your best answers and suggestions.
Thanks Carolyn and Pyang for all the tips - I'll have a look at these more closely in the coming days. And thanks for the link Serge, although currently I can't get through. I'm actually off to a demo tasting tomorrow so I'll know more then about the size, range etc. At the moment tastings in Shanghai tend to be small affairs, the recent Petrus event catering for a maximum 8 people if I recall.
The educational component of a wine tasting is tricky over here and depends on your audience: currently Chinese tend to favour the health benefits of wine, while pairing wine and food is always difficult in a restaurant culture where so many dishes of differing flavours are brought to the table at once and consumed in an ad hoc fashion.
Thanks Pyang. Not quite the same format as what we're doing at the moment but interesting nevertheless. Sounds like quite a night! Had my first demo wine tasting a couple of nights ago and seems like we will be dealing with lots of different kinds of tastings over the coming months, from very informal tapas and plonk events to the full-on gourmet stuff. Will let you know more as and when

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