There are a few things that one can expect when going to a wine tasting, mainly that they will taste wine…perhaps with a tasty bite. Not that extraordinary, if anything quite elemental. Unfortunately this years Savor Dallas Wine Stroll through the Arts District didn’t deliver this expectation.
The evening was perfect for a stroll through the Arts District, with this being the first time some patrons have visited the Winspear, Meyerson, Nasher or DMA. Patrons had a difficult time enjoying their surroundings as most of their evening consisted of standing in line, some of which were 40-50 people deep. The stroll started at The Meyerson, where guests could pick up with passes enjoy their first glass. Trying to weed through the crowd was unbearable so we moved on to The Nasher, thinking that the first venue was so crowded due to it being the hub of activity. Things were not better there, and though the surroundings in their sculpture garden were beautiful and serene, who could tell when the focus was to stand in a line with dozens of other people waiting for a sip of wine. What was at the end of the line was unknown, the necessity was to be in a line to be able to try something. Seventeen Seventeen at the DMA was one big circle of people going from one tasting station to the next, with patrons exclaiming “they are in line” to anyone trying to join the circle from outside. The Winspear may have been the best, as they spread their tasting stations throughout the lobby, but long lines still prevailed.
A few highlights for the evening included a Bertani Valpolicella and Saletein Malbec, both poured by Palm Bay Imports inside The Winspear; a blood orange cocktail with Dripping Springs Vodkafrom Dripping Springs, Texas that we managed to grab while the guest in line was distracted taking pictures; and an amazing bite of Pork Rillette from Brian Luscher of The Grape that we enjoyed in exchange for bringing the very busy Chef a Stella Artois and Pellegrino.
I agree with the report on the event Andrew Chalk posted this morning that perhaps a better way to manage the crowd is to offer a glass of something when a guest walks through the door, instead of an empty glass that they then take to a line to get a tasting. I sympathize with the wineries in attendance. By the time you got to the front of a line you just wanted to taste something, and they want to share the story of the wine and where it comes from. Perhaps designating several people to pour at each station, with the winery representative standing to the side to answer questions and speak about the wine to interested guests would be a better way to manage the crowd. And, in the end, just having more options available in each venue.
I am a big fan of Savor Dallas. It is one of the most notable wine events in the country, with fantastic wineries coming to our city to celebrate the festivities and introduce patrons to their wine. It is amazing to see how much it has grown in the past seven years due to the hard work of founders Jim White and Vicki Briley-White, and the crowd of guests last night showed that. Unfortunately this crowd overshowded the joy in the evening. Here is to hoping that tonight’s International Grand Tasting is better.