Time for a Little Wine Education


“So, it’s like a Tupperware party?”

That was my father’s summation of how I’d described the wine tasting event I’d set up last month as a Father’s Day surprise.

Not exactly, Dad.

I was trying to explain the new Tasting Life program from Monarch Beverage. Maybe I’ll do a better job of it here: Tasting Life is a wine tasting and education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage, Indiana’s largest distributor of beer and wine.

Anyone interested in having a Tasting Life party purchases a six-pack of wine at liquor stores throughout Central Indiana and then schedules a free one-hour wine tasting education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage.

(Disclaimer: The folks at Monarch were generous in supplying the Indiana varietal wine pack for my party. You have to purchase your own wine; the Tasting Life web site has a store locator application to make it easy to find. And our wine expert, Ashley Johnson, let me know that Kroger stores just partnered to begin selling the packs.)

This is where the party varies from a plastic dishware, food product or purse party: there are no sales at any point. It’s strictly a wine tasting and education event.

There are four different wine packs to choose from: an Indiana varietal pack with three red and three white Hoosier wines; a domestic varietal with three reds and three whites; a red varietal; and an international varietal pack. I wanted to also highlight some of the Indiana wineries, and as my family is soon to relocate back home again in Indiana, I chose the Indiana varietal pack.

Our expert showed up a few minutes early to pop open each bottle while explaining how the program works and a little bit about herself, before we launched into the five S’s of wine tasting: sight, swirl, smell, sip and spit (okay, we didn’t do that last one – any wine that was sipped was consumed).

I learned a lot about wine and Hoosier wineries in that hour. Did you know that by the end of the year there will be about 80 wineries here in Indiana? I had no idea there were that many.

I also learned that the Traminette grape is the state grape of Indiana. Didn’t even know we had a state grape.

Here’s one more tidbit: the United States of America recently became the No. 1 wine-consuming nation in the world. Take that, France and Italy!

In the Indiana varietal pack, there are five wineries represented: Rettig Hill in Batesville, Best Winery in Harrison County, Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield and other locations, Turtle Run Winery in Corydon and Butler Winery in Bloomington.

My favorite was the Turtle Run Red My Mind. Sweet and fruity without being too sugary – it went with my steak shish kabobs and fancy cheese selection. And we finished that bottle off before any of the rest of them. But, honestly, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. For a novice wine drinker, I now have some lingo to use and a better understanding of my tastes, along with more knowledge about the Hoosier wine business.

And, my family had a totally unique Father’s Day, complete with wine and fancy cheese.

For more information on the program or to schedule a party, visit www.tastinglife.com.

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