Who said wine tasting had to be full of stuffed shirts? Add a few DJs, a photo booth, and snacks from L.A.'s cool food trucks, and you've got Second Glass's Wine Riot, wine tasting for the iPhone generation. And, yes, there's an app for it, too.
“The average wine event was in a stale boring room, with older men as attendees,” says Morgan First, co-founder of Boston-based Second Glass. “We saw all of these people our age [read: under 35] who were into wine, and there wasn't a cool resource for them.”
Thus, Wine Riot was born. And after four successful runs in Boston, Second Glass is taking the show on the road, launching the national tour here in L.A. first, and then heading to Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. Why L.A.? Because First saw it as an under-served market. Also, she grew up in Brentwood.
While the event is geared toward a more youthful crowd and takes place in the loft-like empty floor of Bloomingdales at Santa Monica Place (like a wine rave?), there's something for everyone here. The majority of wines are from California (Central Coast and Northern California), but also Italy, Chile, Portugal, Argentina and France, and there will be “crash courses,” short organized tastings with winemakers and reps from Dr. Loosen, Krug and others.
The goal is simply to make wine more accessible for people who might not know Roussane from rosé but want to, says First. And the best way to remember what you're drinking is with the mobile app, available on March 17.
“When you go to these events, it's great that you can try all of these wines, but the only way to remember what you drank was to write it down,” explains First. “And not everyone bothers, or they lose their notes. We wanted to fix that.”
With the app, which comes free with the ticket price, the wines are preloaded into your phone, organized by table number, and also by reds and whites (iPhone and Droid only; Blackberry users can login to the mobile site). If you like a particular wine, just hit the thumbs up, and it's saved for you.
Not only will your list be in your phone the next time you're out looking for a bottle of Malbec, but it adds an interactive element to the event. Organizers pull together lists to broadcast across screens throughout the day, so you can see what reds are favored in real time, which sparkling wines are getting raves, or which country is creating the most, ahem, buzz. The prompts help you navigate through the hundreds of wines available to sample while you're there, and give you bubbly for thought later.
Since the event takes place on the dining deck at Santa Monica Place, there are plenty of places to fuel up before and after the tasting (Sonoma Wine Garden, Zengo, La Sandia, Pizza Antica, Ozumo, Xino, plus the fast-casual counters), and some will be offering special discounts for event-goers.
Wine Riot has three sessions: Friday, March 25, 7 to 11 p.m. ($60); and Saturday, March 26, 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. ($50). Purchase tickets here.