You know the utter panic you feel when you crack open the wine list at a restaurant and most of it looks like a foreign language?
Do you order what you can pronounce, whatever’s in your price range, or order the Pinot Noir (even though “Sideways” came out in 2004)?
Tyler Balliet knows that anxiety. The co-founder of Second Glass, which creates online wine tools, launched Wine Riot, a wine-tasting event aimed at neophyte wine drinkers in their 20s and 30s.
The event, which began in Boston a few years ago, lands at DAR Constitution Hall on Oct. 21-22 with a DJ, photo booths and a decidedly unpretentious attitude.
“I went to all these wine events and no one was having fun,” says Balliet, a former wine writer. “Vendors were pouring all these wines, but no one remembered what they were drinking.”
Balliet stresses that Wine Riot is a more lighthearted event. With 20-minute “Crash Courses” on wines and a focus on education (roaming wine experts answer your questions), it’s also your chance to become a more knowledgeable drinker.
“We did a lot of research and found that 68 percent of people use our events to find which wine they’ll be drinking in the next 6 to 9 months,” he says.
And technology will play a big part in the event. Download the free Second Glass app and find all of the booths at the event; once you visit them, you can mark each wine you taste with two thumbs up, one thumb up, or “meh” — all so you can remember later, perhaps when you’re caught off guard by a huge wine list.
For those who have no idea where to start, Balliet suggests this: “Grab a glass, get oriented, and pick a theme: “Let’s start with Italy, or let’s start with older wines, let’s start with roses.” You won’t ever be able to taste all of 250 wines, he says, but you can look for wines you won’t normally find in the area or don’t know well — a Portuguese porto, or an Argentinian Malbec, for example — and start there.