The Rise of the Online Tasting

...and four of the best out there

How’s your 2020 been?  At the very least a bit odd I’m betting.  From the heady days of early lockdown when furlough payments could be relied on and the sun seemed to be shining every day, to the grey pandemic existence we’re all trucking through now.  One thing I’m sure you’ve missed though is getting together with friends, discovering the latest events and exploring new food and drink options.

Luckily, there’s a whole new trend from both established and new businesses alike – the online tasting.  If, like me, the Z-word conjures up images of yet another quiz night of people talking over each other, forgetting to mute, and awkward pauses while everyone works out the delay– fear not, the Zoom tasting brings the site back into realms of an appointment worth keeping.

From cheese and chocolate to wine and gin, you’ll recieve a selection of goodies and have to summon all your reserves of self-control to wait long enough to log online at the appointed time. You’ll then be taken through your box of treats with all the expertise you need.

It doesn’t look like much will be changing on the social scene over the next few months, so hunker down in your living room, place an order and have a food and drink experience in your PJs.  It sounds better than getting dressed to be honest…

Four of the Best

1. Cheese and Wine from Decent Drop

Set up in a response to the hospitality closure earlier in the year, Decent Drop puts together a weekly themed wine and cheese pairing, accompanied by tasting notes and an invite to an interactive Zoom tasting.  £50 for a two-person box with free delivery around Manchester and nationwide delivery for £10. www.decentdrop.com

2. Craft Beer from Virtually Together

Another new entrepreneurial endeavour in response to lockdown, Virtually Together provide a whole range of online events, but top of the list is their London Craft Beer Tasting.  You can choose between a 4 or 6 beer package – and the private workshop includes a full run through with a Beer Sommelier who’ll talk you through the brewing process, current beer scene and how food and beer can work together.  Private workshops are £350 with beer parcels starting at £28pp. www.virtually-together.co.uk/virtual-beer-tasting

3. Chocolate from Hotel Chocolat

The chocolate giant has responded well to the times with their virtual chocolate experience.  It includes delivery of their classic Everything H-Box to munch through during the event hosted by a chocolate expert talking you through the different variations of cocoa, how to taste it and jam-packed with factoids.  £20pp for a minimum of 5 people. www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/virtual-tasting-experience

4. Gin from The Little Gin Company

Two friends with a common love of gin, Emma and Nicola from Stratford-upon-Avon started their journey in 2015 with their horsebox mobile bar.  Now offering their expertise over a virtual medium, they’ll deliver a tasting kit with a double measure of four artisan gins and mixers, and a private online session arranged at a time to suit you.  £36pp for a minimum of 4 people.  www.thelittlegincompany.com/virtual-gin-tasting