A couple months ago, one of my friends sent me a link on Facebook messenger to an article on Popdust. As soon as I clicked on the link, “Tasting Room is Giving Liquor Stores a Run for Their Money” popped up as the title in bold black lettering. By the end of the article, the marriage between my love for wine and this first ever personalized wine club began. Tasting Room is the birth child of Lot18, an international wine distributor that curates, markets and retails fine wine online. Most wine clubs source 12 wines for the month and all members get the same shipment. Tasting Room is unique as they hone in on the beauty of customizing all shipments based on each member’s online wine profile for a personable wine tasting experience. Think of the Tasting Room as your personal wardrobe stylist, but for wine.
How It Works
First, I signed up for Tasting Room as a member to receive their Tasting Kit containing six individual 50mL bottles of wine and tasting mats. Once I received my kit, my tasting palette was prepared to try an assortment of reds and whites from countries like Chile, France, New Zealand and beyond.
Once my membership sign up was complete, I logged into my account and followed the online rating flow as I tasted each set of red and white wines. All wine bottles have a number on the bottom so you know the exact order during the taste test. Acidity, Body, Tannins - I was ready to put my knowledge from a past wine education course I took as an undergrad at DePaul to the test! I started off with a set of whites.
Origin: California, United States
Tastes Like: Apple, Lemon, Peach, Pear
Pairs well with: Light salads and light seafood entrees
Final verdict: Very crisp with a dry finish. Truthfully not my favorite as the bitterness can be a bit overwhelming.
Origin: Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Tastes Like: Mineral, Passion Fruit, Grass, Lemon
Pairs well with: Goat Cheese, Seafood, Light Salads
Final verdict: Very smooth and refreshing as the wine swivels around your tongue. The citrus from the lemon and hint of passionfruit won my tastebuds over.
Before moving on to the next set of wines, the online rating flow let’s you choose which wine you preferred, if you liked both or disliked both. The Chardonnay didn’t win me over, but the Sauvignon Blanc did. I went with bottle 1.
On to the reds, the best for last. I was ready to add some newbies to my list of go to’s - Merlots and deep red blends.
Origin: Central Coast, California, United States
Tastes Like: Cherry, Raspberry
Pairs well with: Mushroom Risotto, Pork Chops, Pizza
Final verdict: While first trying this pinot, I was waiting to embrace the aromas of strawberries, cherries, raspberries and the fullness of a dark red blend. Not a bad wine choice, but not on my list of favorites.
Tastes Like: Chocolate, Spice, Tobacco
Pairs well with: Grilled Chicken, Grilled Red Meats, Roasted Vegetables
Final verdict: I love French reds, but this Château did not make my list for “go to’s”. This red has a lot of earthy tones, but I was in search of deep, bold flavors of blackberries and chocolate. I rated “disliked both” on the online rating profile. I was ready to pour, swivel, smell and taste the next set of reds in hopes finding a new fave.
Origin: Côtes Du Rhône, Southern Rhône, Rhône Valley, France
Tastes Like: BlackBerry, Black Cherry
Pairs well with: Anything Grilled, Sausages, Lamb Dishes
Final verdict: Very luscious and rich in flavor! Hints of rich plum and black cherry hits the surface of your palate after each sip. This gorgeous French red had the perfect amount of tannin that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the wine.
Tastes Like: Bell Pepper, Black Currant, Dark Cherry, Herbs
Pairs well with: Aged Cheeses, Beef, Anything Grilled
Final verdict: This Cabernet is smooth to the taste. Hints of raspberry and cherry with undertones of earthiness. I could see myself enjoying a glass with a juicy steak.
At the conclusion of the tasting, Tasting Room tallied all of my ratings and feedback to generate a personal wine profile for me. It revealed flavors I prefer, a varietal of grapes I should look for, where in the world I can find my favorite types of wine based on taste, and much more. Honestly, I felt this wine profile knew me better than I knew myself. My profile revealed I’m a “Big Reds” and “Luscious Whites” type of girl.
After learning what types of reds and whites I like and don’t like, I was anxious to try my full size bottle shipments. What’s unique to me is that all full-sized bottle shipments from Lot 18’s Bottle Shop (a virtual oasis that allows members to buy wine they love at discounted prices) are picked by a team of experts based on your wine profile. This added another touch to making my tasting experience even more personable and intimate versus sending randomized bottles without knowing what my taste buds craved. Let’s say you like tart, crisp whites and big, bold reds, you'll receive wines like Bordeaux, Cabernets, Sauv Blanc and Pinot Gris. I received a NV Curieuse Vin Blanc white wine from France and a 2015 Concern Worldwide Clarksburg Petite Sirah from Clarksburg, California. Not going to lie, I enjoyed a glass of Sirah while writing this.
It was fun being a wine critic in the comfort of my home and quenching my inner wine connoisseur. I learned about new wines I’ve never been exposed to. Tasting Room welcomes beginners, intermediate and expert wine lovers which makes the tasting experience less intimidating. Next time I order a glass of wine, I’ll thank Tasting Room for knowing about that 2014 Le Flaneur Vin de France Cabernet Sauvignon behind the bar. Cheers.