I’m not ashamed to admit that I occasionally buy clearance wine. Or that I select my Sav Blanc based on how cute the bottle is. "Sue me, no don’t sue me”- Michael Scott.

However, I decided that one of my New Year's resolutions was to step up my wine game. To make this dream a reality, I decided to turn to Cross Keys Vineyard for some expert advice.

Wine Tasting: How it Works

wine, alcohol, date
Meghan Tocci

I organized a group of about 26 girls come with me for a private wine tasting. Sounds bougie and expensive, right? Wrong. 

It was surprisingly easy and affordable to accommodate us all. I told the vineyard how many of us to expect for a private tasting and bingo—a party fit for some queens.

The best part? A tasting of 12 wines and a monstrous cheese plate is only $15 a head. At a nicer place to eat you could be spending anywhere from $6-$10 on a GLASS of wine. We’re talking 12 healthy pours here.

In addition, the tasting came along with lovely staff who were extremely knowledgeable about all things wine. I kept a little note sheet as I was tasting so I could try and recall what each wine would be paired with.

We scheduled our party for 4 p.m. which was ideal. The sun was just starting to set making for some amazing golden hour pictures. The tables were elegant. They even had little stone placards with our party’s name on it.

Simple touches, but they helped a bunch of 21 and 22-year old’s feel sophisticated. That’s something I appreciate considering we’re usually pigeonholed into a binge drinking stereotype.

We could appreciate the nuances of sophisticated wine culture. To prove it, here’s a few fun facts I learned during the tasting.

Quick Facts

coffee, wine, beer, pizza, tea
Meghan Tocci

Virginia law states that wine made in the state can’t be more than a 14% alcohol content. Unless you want to pay a large tax that is. That being said, almost ALL of the wines at Cross Keys are over 14% and thus they’re willing to shell out the extra cash in order to maintain quality. After tasting their 2014 Ali d’Oro (17% alc) I can say it’s worth the price tag.

Additionally, not all red wine is created equal. I’m all for pulling a Merlot right off the shelf for a date night, but a Petit Verdot is a more romantic choice. Why? Well, apparently, the tannins have a similar physiological effect on your body as sex. As our wine goddess aptly named it: the Netflix and Chill wine.

Final Thoughts

wine, beer, coffee
Meghan Tocci

Suffice it to say I was in heaven. Learning and consuming wine at the same time? That was this nerdy wino’s dream. I would suggest anyone give this tasting a try.

Male, female, big group or small. You could wow your friends at a cocktail party with your new-found knowledge. Or you could just eat some amazing cheese. Either way, I consider it a win.