How it went and why we decided to do it
It is not a secret that wine and I go a long way back together. My love for wine developed in time and travelling plus living abroad definitely pushed this passion further. I was lucky enough to try amazing wines wherever I went and searching for these kinds of experiences contributed do my wine education.
After completing my WSET Level 2 certification (an international Sommelier education institution), I got very excited about continuing my education in the wine world, but I also acknowledged that one of the main reasons why I designed Pointer Wine Glass was the love for wine and the desire to be able to enjoy it in the best possible, including when having a picnic. Long story short, it is for the love of wine that Pointer Wine Glass was born.
10 years have passed since I moved abroad and during all this time, I made many international friends and they all got very curious about by home country. The reasons are different. For some it felt exotic that I come from Eastern Europe and they manifested their curiosity to explore that region and the Balkans. For others, it was the encounter with Romanian home made wine and food that gave them itchy feet.
I still feel very special thinking that I come from a family of wine makers, even thought most of the fellow Romanian people whom I know come from such families. I often have at home bottles with wine made by my father and every time I ask my guests what they would like to drink, the answer is: “Do you still have some home made wine from your father?”
Might sound special and yes, the personal story brings the extra touch, but in fact home made Romanian wine is far from what we know as bottled wine. It is made from hybrid grapes (happy to explain in another blogpost) and it is forbidden by European law to bottle it. It generally stays fresh not so long so it is intended for immediate consumption and most of all, it it not really made by the books but everybody has their own methods and twists.
There is much more to Romanian wine than that. Romanian wine producers have put a lot of passion and effort over the last 20 years in both making high quality wines, but also in exploring the indigenous grape varieties and highlighting their potential. We are living in a world where trying wines from all around the world is relatively easy, however I struggle (still) to find high quality Romanian wines in Germany. Even thought there are a few online shops that offer a selection of important Romanian Wine producers, I feel Romania is still a very unexplored wine producing country and not present enough on the international market.
My decision to sell wine came naturally given the nature of my core product and its utility. It soon also became very clear that I would like to embark on this adventure by starting with Romanian wines and most of all, with local grapes. There is a long list of producers whose wines I am fond of and it is my goal to bring together as many of them, on German land. For the time being, I decided to start with the Prince Stirbey, a winery with a very interesting history that captured my attention and taste buds through their single varietal wines, made from local as well as international grapes.
It took a lot of tasting with the team to understand which wines could work and how to introduce them. As our business goal is to offer unique wine experiences, we decided to start a series of events in order to familiarise our customers with the Romanian wines new in our shop.
The first Wine Tasting event hosted by To The Pointer took place at the end of May in a wonderful cafe-bar in Berlin Charlottenburg. We offered a selection of 8 wines from Stirbey Winery, each paired with one type of cheese. Most of the guests were friends or friends of friends and it was very empowering to host my first wine tasting outside of my living room surrounded by familiar faces.
When designing this experience, our goal was to place our participants in a very relaxed setting, where they could have the chance to try exceptional wine without feeling pressured to buy them (which often happens at wine tastings) and where they could freely share their opinions with their tasting neighbours or with the whole group. The educational aspect was also very important to me, with regards to the wine history of the country as well as the history of the grapes. The experience lasted for 2 hours and the feedback we received at the end was very positive and helpful.
It turns out that there is interest for repeating the event for those who couldn’t make it, for those who would like to make a team event out of it, but also because the Stirbey Winery owners have contacted us and would like to join us. I was personally thrilled to share some of my (never enough) knowledge and to learn together with the participants and through the interactions. Even though repeating the event will make it easier from a wine perspective, I believe the crowd will always bring a twist through their questions and curiosities.
What comes next?
We will continue with the Prince Stirbey event series and transition to other small Romanian wine producers and grape varieties. We love drinking wine outdoors so this is why we are working or organising a series of similar events, but in the nature. We already tried it out for a corporate event and we were quite amazed of how different and special it felt ( I will explain more in a future blog post). When we will get tired of Romanian wines, there is quite an extensive selection of indigenous grapes from Moldova, Croatia, Slovenia, Armenia etc. that we would like to explore together with you. We will of course keep you updated on the dates for our events this summer and look forward to drinking some more wine with style.
A very special thanks goes to Veronica (my work collaborator on Product Strategy) for all her support during the last 3 months. I am extremely happy we were able to end our first collaboration cycle with the kick off of 2 new product categories (wines and events). Next special thanks is for Casimir (my partner in crime) and all his moral and physical support during these transformational months. A big thank you goes to Robert and Cafe Jeudi Bar for hosting us. Last but not least, we would like to thank the 27 pioneers that accepted being wine guided by me.
Listen to the crowd and adapt your speech and structure to them. Use a bell or some sort of auditory signal to get attention and to pace the wine pouring. Explain from the beginning that spitting is OK and even recommended by making the participants aware of the amount of alcohol they are about to receive and that it should be consumed responsibly. Do tasting events during the week in order to make sure they end at a decent hour. Hire help during the event. Find a cool storage room with elevator.