May 8, 2020

Written by Trish


Social isolation doesn’t mean staying away from your favourite wines or your favourite wine friends (at least virtually…) We are pleased to share this easy to follow overview created by fellow wine colleague, Glenn Fawcett, over at Black Hills Winery, on how to host a virtual wine tasting online with friends.  

Go ahead, grab your favourite bottles of Kamloops wine and reach out and wine and/or whine with someone.  It is really easy to do and so much fun to reconnect with your friends and loved ones especially during this time of social distancing.

Follow these steps to make the most of your virtual wine party:

Make a list of all the friends and or loved ones you would like to participate as guests.Coordinate a date and time that works for everyone.

As the host, you can decide if the guests can either:

1) Drink whatever wine they want to drink during the Virtual Wine Party, and share their unique experiences with the attendees, or
2) Select a specific wine(s) that you want everyone to taste at the same time. If it is a wine from one of our Kamloops Wineries, you can select and order those wines to be shipped from the winery directly to your home with no delivery charges.  For more details on shipping and availability, check our website for winery listings and to place orders

If you do not already have the free Zoom video conferencing tool, download it and watch the “How to use” tutorials on this website:

Send a note to your guests instructing them to download the Zoom tool and to have the wine(s) you have selected for the night open and ready before the start of the virtual wine party. Of course, make sure they have their wine glasses ready for enjoying it as well!

As the host, you should log on to the Zoom site about 10 minutes in advance which will give you time to get organized and help anyone who may need some handholding while logging on to Zoom (if they have not done this before).

For a little extra fun, you can try adding a customized zoom background to your account.  Share a beautiful vineyard backdrop or a wine barrel cellar as you sip along with your guests.  If you want to play around with this special effect, we have put together some how-to instructions along with a gallery of Kamloops Wine Trail images for your viewing pleasure. 

As the host, we recommend that you moderate your first virtual Wine party, particularly at the beginning. It does not need to be a tightly regimented or formal guided wine tasting. Our experience is that your guests will enjoy it even more if they all get a chance to say something and be part of the dialogue. We suggest you ask each of them what they smell on the nose and what they taste on the palate. Keep it fun and unpretentious and it will be a more memorable occasion. To keep it balanced and social, we recommend that the conversation during your Virtual Wine Party is 1/3 wine talk, 1/3 general catch-up and news, and 1/3 taking turns sharing experiences, hobbies or other interesting things.

Most importantly, have fun!

Asked Questions:

Q: Which is the best video conference technology to use? Zoom, SKYPE or Facetime?
A: We like Zoom the best because it is super easy to use and the video streaming seems to run smoother than the others, particularly if you have multiple participants during your Virtual Wine Party. Plus, it is FREE to use.
Also, we recommend you use the microphone and Video option that comes from your computer, (not your telephone) when prompted on Zoom. This makes it a free call for you.

Q: What is the ideal number of participants to have at a Virtual Wine Party?
A: As the host, it really is up to you to decide how many you want to have. Generally, try to have at least 4 or 5 participants so that you have enough different personalities present to make the conversations interesting. If you go for larger numbers, the virtual wine party can certainly become even more interesting. However, you will need a good moderator to control the meeting if too many people start speaking at once. Further, once you get 20 or more participants the visual images on your computer screen get small and it can start slowing down the video feed depending on the bandwidth of your WIFI. So, try experimenting and see what works best for you.

Q: We ordered a case of wine from the winery.  Do we open and drink all the bottles when we do our Virtual Wine Party, or can we only open one wine and then open the others on separate occasions?
A: Unless you really plan on “tying one on” during your first Virtual Wine Party, we recommend a more conservative consumption of one or maybe two bottles per participant -couple per session. If you spread the bottles out over time, that means you will have more occasions in which to enjoy getting together.

Q: Do you have some suggestions on the best way to moderate the online conversation on the Virtual Wine Party?
A: It is likely that some (or all) of the participants in your Virtual Wine Party may be new to videoconferencing and, as such, may be unfamiliar with how to follow conference call technology. Further, a lot of your friends will be excited to see each other and have lots of questions and comments they want to make to each other. Which is not a bad thing, because the purpose of the video conference is to be social. However, if it is not moderated in some fashion you can end up with various participants all talking at once, which creates a cacophony of noise coming out of the speaker on your computer. This is not enjoyable for anyone.
• The role of the moderator is to keep the conversation on track and to make sure that all the participants of the Virtual Wine Party have a chance to say something, and not to get drowned out by more outspoken participants. This can be done in a friendly and tactful way that does not impose tight restrictions and take away from the fun of the gathering. It’s about having fun. Be flexible and go with the flow.

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