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.

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


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.

Winemaker Sam Keirsey stirs the lees with a tool that looks like a golf putter.
  • 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.


There was talk that some wines smell like crap. I tested this on video, and now know it to be untrue.
  • Taste testing bad wine
    Another wine test we conducted (very scientific) was the drinkability of the latest wine craze: Chocolate 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.

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.


In my Sunday best, I tromped up the hill to see Del Rio Vineyards from the top.
  • 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!


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

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard award winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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