With just a couple of clicks, you can buy some sips.
Former Bearfoot Bistro sommelier Eric Blouin recently launched TasteWhistler.com, where web surfers can quickly and easily book wine tastings hosted in the comforts of their own homes.
Blouin, who has been in the industry for two decades including the last 14 years in Whistler, explained he can plan an evening to fit the bill for wine enthusiasts of nearly any experience. He has created a few basic tastings, such as introductory sessions, British Columbia wines, Champagne, and Pinot Noir samplers.
"I have a few tastings that are tried and true tastings that I've done over the years with various groups," he said. "Best of B.C. is always definitely a favourite."
Blouin also described the Old World vs. New World blind tastings, where he'll pit wines from Italy and California, for example, against one another. Regularly, participants will find a trend in preferred wines, opting for some regions over others.
However, for a more selective taster, he also offers customizable events.
"We ask the right questions to make sure that we put together a lineup of wines that the client will be happy with," he said. "What's important to know is what they like and dislike, and from that, I try to figure out what their level of knowledge is about wine.
"If they're experts and are set on Tuscany, I'll make sure that I pick wines that go with that."
Each session includes six wines, charcuterie and cheese, and Blouin suggested the sessions could be held for any number of occasions, ranging from a girls' night out to a unique après activity.
"There's definitely a side that's educational, but really, it's all about fun. I want people to come out of this experience and maybe have discovered a wine they had no idea that they liked that they will be drinking from now on," he said. "From $10 wine to $500 wine, I think each wine has a place. The mission in life is to find where that place is."
And if a particular wine happens to become an attendee's new favourite, it won't be like trying to find a cork in a vineyard to track it down – all the wines Blouin supplies are readily available in area liquor stores.
Blouin said his time working in restaurants laid the groundwork for launching this new business.
"You never know everything. You learn every day," he said. "The most important thing about the wine world in general is... keep an open mind because there's someone, somewhere that's going to pull out a bottle that you've never tasted.
"It keeps things interesting."
Blouin said the venture has been in the works for a while, as he had been hosting private wine tastings in Vancouver for friends and colleagues beginning in 2006. He said he decided last year to make the venture his main focus, finding a new way to contribute to Whistler's "world-class food and wine scene."
"Whistler is a great place to have this kind of service," he said. "We'll see in the coming weeks, but so far, the response has been great. Every concierge that we've talked to has been very excited and supportive.
"I think they get what we're trying to achieve here."
As one who has been trained by the International Sommelier Guild, Blouin has plenty of knowledge from which to draw. He stressed he won't lord over attendees, instead working with them in a laid-back way to help them hone in and draw their own conclusions.
"I've seen it many times at the tastings — after wine no. 3, people talk and they ask questions," he chuckled. "They have opinions and that's what it's all about.
"It's not what I'm telling you that you should be tasting. It's for you to discover."
Tastings begin at $79 per person and can be hosted for anywhere from four to 15 people. For more information, visit TasteWhistler.com.
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