Highball Hospitality hopes to bring wine tasting to the masses virtually while keeping that personalised, individual touch.
A north-east entrepreneur has launched a new virtual wine tasting club to give individuals the chance to enjoy a range of interesting wines all from the comfort of their own sofas.
Julia Wishart of Highball Hospitality, a drinks training and education company, will talk guests through five hand-picked wines (100ml samples) at monthly events and will also serve up tasting notes and food pairing suggestions for guests to best enjoy the wine.
Every tasting will have a different theme and guests can also opt for private tastings, too.
Julia boasts a globally recognised qualification in wine from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and has worked in the hospitality industry for around 15 years. She also works as the brand ambassador for Aberdeenshire-based spirits company Esker Spirits.
Taking place for the first time next month, she is looking forward to welcoming her first guests virtually and will uncover a range of wines in the November event.
She said: “It kind of all really started in lockdown. Before all of this I had wanted to be doing more in-person events and hosting more tastings at offices and parties etc. I didn’t want the business to just be a lockdown business so I took my time in developing it and making sure it was still something people wanted.
“The way it is going I think everyone is now in the way of logging onto Zoom and online tastings. With the club and the events I wanted to break down that snobbery that is sometimes associated with wine tastings and make it more laid back and really fun.
“I saw that there was a lot of tastings and wine delivery services and they were focusing on full bottles so it was costing people a lot of money to do them, but I offer five 100ml samples of the wines so it is affordably priced (£27.99).
“All of the wines will be blind tasted so will just have numbers on them when they arrive. There’s an envelope in the box which tells you what they all are which guests open at the end.
“There will be a monthly theme and will be the second last or last Thursday of the month. You can enjoy the wines as you please and I’ll be revealing how best to taste wine and enjoy them.”
Looking to support local independent bottle shops, Julia says she will also highlight some supermarket top picks within her selections too, making it easy for those who would like to purchase any of the wines to be able to do so at ease – and at their own leisure.
She added: “I purchase my wines reasonably locally so people can get their hands on them if they want to purchase them after. I’ll look to supermarkets for some, but will be focusing on local independent bottle shops primarily. Sometimes you try wines but then you can get them anywhere, so hopefully people will find this beneficial.
“I’ll also hold bespoke private tastings, too, for those who would like to get their families and friends involved in a more intimate setting.”
No-strings wine club
The “no-strings” wine club is something Julia says is an important element of the club, giving customers the chance to get involved in events as they please.
“I’m calling it a no-strings wine club as you can select a one off event, or you can select a number. I’ll do a range of events and I’ve got a Christmas dinner wine pairing event in December which I think people will really enjoy in the lead up to the day,” said Julia.
“If you sign up for a few then you’ll receive a discount, but I just wanted to make sure people didn’t feel pressured to get involved every single month.
“The website is all ecommerce and is really easy to use. Everything will be delivered straight to your door to make it as easy as possible for the public to get involved.
“The classes will run for an hour and then I’ll leave the event open for people to ask questions and chat for around 15 minutes or so after, too. Wee Wine Club is something people can look forward to in these uncertain times… and beyond.”
For more information visit www.highballhospitality.com.