How to wine with friends during a pandemic

We are months into a pandemic trying to figure out how to live differently almost overnight.


Help for a challenging week

A couple Sundays ago we were driving into Charlotte as a family to run a quick errand and a friend came to mind — a friend who expressed having a challenging week entertaining children while also managing work responsibilities. I decided I wanted to surprise them with a porch drop-off of a bottle of wine and give them a distanced hello from the car.

Within 20 minutes, I expanded my list of porch wine drop-offs to three families, arranged our drive-by hellos, ordered pick-up from Total Wine, and stopped at Suarez Bakery for cookies for all the kids.


Stay connected from a distance

We have been missing our friends and desperately need a night out, but that still isn’t possible. Seeing our friends for a few minutes was so soothing and just what we all needed. The surprise wine (and cookies) was just a cherry on top!


Why wait for the next drive-by hello, or worse, until this is all over to hang out again?

I bought two bottles of each wine with a plan in mind to enjoy the bottles together with each couple virtually. I thought a virtual tasting session would be a fun way to connect despite the distance.

Technology has made is easy for us to stay in touch with our friends although it’s just not the same and often hard to carve out the time. Virtual Wine Tasting Socials with friends around the world will now be a part of our regular schedule.


How to create a virtual tasting session with your friends

  • Set-up a virtual video call with friends using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Houseparty, etc.
  • Select a wine. I selected based on grape varieties or regions I recall these friends preferring. (See below for recommendations.) Next time I’ll select something out of their comfort zones. If your friends are not local, then select a wine that they can easily access as well.
  • If delivering via a porch drop-off, then purchase two bottles of the same wine (one for you and one for them) and deliver with a smile or a special note.
  • Select and send wine tasting guidelines/methodology you’d like to reference. You can follow guidelines outlined in my previous article on Feb 12, 2020 titled How to Swirl, Sniff and Taste Like a Pro. The Wine Folly Wine Flavor Wheel is a great resource to help identify aromas and flavors. Also, reference the picture of Corks & Boards Wine Tasting Approach Tool which is what I use in the wine courses I offer. Last, pull down tasting notes for the wine and print, but don’t read yet. Share the official tasting notes with your friends to compare against your tasting notes.

  • Chill wine the morning of the call, if necessary.
  • 30 minutes prior to the call – Prepare a few snacks that are complementary or neutral for the wine. Salted nuts or crackers are always easy. You can get more adventurous with some cheese, smoked meat, fruit, or even dessert. Take the wine out of the fridge and cork the bottle (in case it needs to breathe). Pull out your fancy wine glasses and arrange a cozy and quiet area of your house to hold your video call.
  • Enjoy your virtual wine tasting social!





Recommended Wine selection

The bottles selected are all 90+ rated from Total Wine & More, and less than $20.

              1. VAL DO SOSEGO ALBARINO RIAS BAIXAS ($15.99)
              2. ANGELINE PINOT NOIR RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, 2018 ($19.99)
              3. COURTNEY BENHAM CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA, 2017 ($19.99)






Corks & Boards wine tasting approach tool




Tasting notes

Stay tuned for the results of my Virtual Wine Tasting Socials and tasting notes for the three wines selected above in my next article on Wednesday, May 27.


Special note from the editor

Try Stephanie Roberts Virtual Wine Tasting Social for yourself. Send your tasting notes/results to me at by Sunday, May 24th and I will include your comments in her next article. — EH Stafford, Managing Editor






Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified, is passionate about educating people about wine and all its complexities. She believes that through education comes enlightenment and approachability—elevating the wine and food experience. Stephanie is the founder of Corks & Boards, offering unique and tailored wine experiences, and topic driven tastings/education. Furthermore, she has developed a wine education series that she will launch February 2020. She currently offers wine experiences and education to the Lake Norman community at Brick Row and the Charlotte community at Camp North End.




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