For wine industry professionals, trade wine tasting events are held throughout the year where those in the wine trade can taste wines from various winemakers and regions around the world. These trade shows feature a lot of wine, and they serve as a basis for those in the industry to make decisions about the wines they serve or sell in restaurants, wine shops, and more.
Wine Industry Trade Shows
Trade shows happen when wine producers get together to showcase their wines in one spot…so instead of the trade professionals going to the winery, the winery comes to them. This provides the producers of the wines easy access to everyone in the profession. Think of it as a trade show for wine people. These shows often feature hundreds of wines.
Showcasing New Wines
These events are not for the public. To get in you normally have to be invited and RSVP. Your credentials are checked and when you arrive you usually have to provide a business card. Don't think because the public isn't invited that it is not any use to the public. It really is. The purpose of these trade tastings is to showcase new arrivals of wine so that you as a buyer, distributor, writer, etc., can preview the wines before the general public. As a buyer or distributor, the benefit is you can pre-order the wine and have it arrive in your store along with your tasting notes on it, since you've already tasted it. As a writer, you can write about the wines so you can inform the public about things like the new vintages and what wines to look for.
Private Winery Trade Tastings
Members of the wine industry can also schedule private tastings with specific wineries. Typically, the wineries don't charge the usual tasting fee for such events. In order to schedule such a tasting, contact the individual winery and tell them who you are and why you would like to visit. They will likely seek verification of your credentials such as a business card and schedule you a private appointment with someone from the winery to taste and learn about the wines.
Other Purposes of Trade Tastings
Sometimes the events don't have to be so high-profile. For example, a trade tasting event showcasing wines from a small region of Spain called Navarra was held. Not many people have heard of that area, let alone tasted wines from there. The wines were primarily in the value arena as far as cost goes. These producers had not had much exposure to the U.S. market, and they were hoping to break in. Without trade tasting events like this, it would have been hard to break in to the market. The trade tasting was a great opportunity for them and for those who had not had the chance to try any wines from that area previously. It was definitely a win-win for them, for those in the industry and for you the consumers.
List of Annual Wine Trade Shows
Many trade tastings are held annually.
- United States Trade Tasting (USATT) is held annually in New York City. It features international and domestic wines from around the world and introduces many wines to trade professionals.
- WinExpo is the California North Coast wine trade show and conference. It focuses on wines from Napa, Mendocino, Sonoma County, and Lake County.
- Gold Coast Food and Wine Expo is held in Queensland, Australia annually and features Australian food and wine.
- Grand Jours de Bourgogne is a weeklong trade-only wine tasting event that has seven days of wine tastings of Burgundy wines.
- London Wine Fair is the UK's largest wine trade event featuring more than 10,000 wines from all around the world.
- Vinitaly in Verona, Italy features wines from wineries all around the world with a focus on Italian wines.
- Prowein is Germany's largest wine trade show held annually in Düsseldorf.
- Vinexpo is held in various cities and countries around the world including Paris and New York.
Who Can Attend Wine Trade Fairs?
While some wine trade fairs are both for professionals and the public, most require you to be a member of the wine trade. Some jobs that may qualify you to attend such fairs and tastings include the following:
- Fine dining server/wine steward
- Wine shop owner
- Wine writer, editor, critic, and/or journalist
- Restaurant owner
- Bar owner
- Professional wine buyer
- Mixologist and/of bartender
- Wine and spirits wholesaler or trader
- Professional working in food and wine public relations
- Wine student
Tips for Attending Trade Wine Tastings
If you're attending a wine industry trade tasting, keep the following in mind:
- There are a lot of wines there. Have a plan and try to stick to it.
- Spit most of the wines you taste.
- Take notes as you taste wines so you remember your impressions and thoughts.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- Don't wear any scent such as perfume or aftershave.
- Be sure to nibble, even if you're spitting.
- Drink water between tastings.
Trade Tastings Are Valuable Tool for Wine Professionals
Even though it may seem that wine professionals drink wine for a living, it's not quite as simple as that. Industry events such as trade tastings are really a valuable tool for industry folks to learn about and try wines so they can turn around pass that information along to the consumer.