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A Year in the Life of a Professional Wine Drinker (Pictures)

The Life of a Professional Wine Taster

It’s been a year since we’ve forced you into Wine Folly’s antics. Since then, we’ve had a few sobering moments, but the rest has been an exercise in heavy drinking. Please enjoy the better parts of being a professional wine taster.

ZAP Zinfandel Wine Tasting in 2012

The ZAP festival in 2012. I’ve never tasted more Zinfandel wine in a single setting in my life. Highly recommended.


  • Madeline Puckette at the ZAP Zinfandel Pro Tasting
  • Christopher Watkins ridge zinfandel wine blogger
  • Many thousands of mini baguettes were given away
  • Josh and Jake Beckett sons of Peachy Canyon winemakers are making Chronic Cellars

What’s it like at a Trade & Media Wine Tasting?
It was a tastebud workout to taste so much Zinfandel at the ZAP tasting. Most folks come to taste expensive wines, but we were determined to find up-and-coming winemakers. We were thrilled with the guys at Kokomo Winery and Chronic Cellars.


Stirring the lees Washington Wine Maker Landon Sam Keirsey Winemaker Sam Keirsey stirs the lees with a tool that looks like a golf putter.

  • blending wine with Sam at Pandora cellars
  • What’s it like to be a winemaker?
    Up to 90-hour weeks in frigid cellar temperatures. Best part? Making the blend… and seeing the look on people’s faces when they love your wine. Experience blending wine at Pandora Cellars.


Madeline Puckette in baby diaper chardonnayThere was talk that some wines smell like crap. I tested this on video, and now know it to be untrue.

  • Chocolate Shop Wine Review
  • Taste testing bad wine
    Another wine test we conducted (very scientific) was the drinkability of the latest wine craze: Chocolate Wine.


Falling into a Lagar while making Port Wine While making Port wine in the Douro, one of the winemakers’ assistants fell in the Lagar. He had to be sprayed down with a hose.

  • douro-river-valley-portugal-port-wine-country
  • The city of Porto, Portugal, the bridge and the Douro river
  • Oscar Quevedo pulls vintage port from Balseiros
  • Porto Douro City at Night. photo by Justin Hammack

What’s European wine travel like?
Portugal is a rugged country that is now one of the most affordable European hot spots for wine travel. Unlike the US, there are 2000 years of cultural history carved into the hills along the Douro River. The people were extremely generous and hospitable.


Del Rio Vineyards in Southern Oregon is Planting more Cabernet SauvignonIn my Sunday best, I tromped up the hill to see Del Rio Vineyards from the top.

  • Champoux Vineyards with Rob Mercer Oldest Washington Vineyards
  • Eating Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes from Klipsum Vineyards at JM Cellars
  • Wine travel in the US
    Jump in the car and hit the road. America has so much wine to offer in places you wouldn’t believe!


Madeline makes cork light sabers in a cork factory

The cork is made as an endless foam noodle that is sliced into short pieces. Or in my case, a longer noodle cork sword.


How are synthetic corks made?
We visited Nomacorc in South Carolina. They are one of the largest synthetic cork factories in the world. Watch how corks are made. Or you can geek out about how oxygen affects wine.

Where should we go next?

Is there a region you’d like to explore more? Please leave a comment below!

We were inspired to make this article from Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog and his article A year in the life of a wine writer

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