* The 11th annual Cork Wine Fair is hosted by O’Donovans Off-Licences at the Clarion Hotel Lapp’s Quay, Cork, from 3pm to 9pm. Tickets cost €10 each, with the entire proceeds going to Cork Simon Community. They are available from all 16 branches of O’Donovan’s Off-Licences around Cork or by phone from O’Donovan’s on 021-4296060.
* Gibneys of Malahide are hosting their annual wine fair in the Grand Hotel, Malahide, between 5pm and 10pm. Tickets coast €10 each (or four for €30) with all proceeds going to the local school. Book or get further information on 01 8450606, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the Cork event, some 400 wines from O’Donovans’ extensive list will be available to sample, along with speciality beers and tasty food. Everyone over 18 is welcome. And for the dedicated wine fan, there will be tutored tastings conducted by wine experts Jean Smullen and John McDonnell.
Reflecting the current trend towards quality bottled beers, Gibney’s and O’Donovan’s fairs will both feature beer tastings.
Both tastings are open-ended, with consumers circulating around the dozens of tables manned by wine professionals. While obviously intended to promote the retailer’s range, big tastings such as this provide the best way for consumers to get a sense of the market, and which wines are the best value.
While some people attending such wine fairs treat them as a sociable night out, most seize the opportunity to work from table to table sniffing, sipping and, yes, spitting at samples of wine. It’s a chance for consumers to wield their senses of taste and smell, free of advertising, salespeople and even the wine column in the Irish Examiner Weekend.
* For a guide to how best to navigate wine tastings (including the essential skill of spitting) see blakecreedon.wordpress.com.