Mecaela: ToutSuite Social Club offers members the opportunity to participate in live tastings over a sophisticated video chat system and social media channels. When I first heard about the concept, I had a hard time understanding how it would actually work. When Harry and I were invited to the Tacos + Tequila tasting last week, we jumped at the chance to get a behind the scenes look (and taste) of the operation!
Harry: Let’s say that you drink wine. Let’s say that you happen across a bottle. Let’s say that you love that bottle. Let’s say you love that bottle so much that you want to know more about it, where it comes from, and might even want to meet the individual who makes it! Tout Suite let’s you do just that. Meet your food, spirits, and winemaker right in your living room, as you taste their artisan products. Meet your maker with the Tout Suite Social Club.
M: When we arrived at the headquarters in downtown St. Helena, we were greeted by a room full of bright lights, cameras, and lots of wine! The founders, Susan Quinn and Didier Loustau gave us some info on how the company came to be and what we could expect for the first half of the event. We were stationed in the green room (actual wall color red) with a large screen to project the event that would be taking place just beyond our wall, and a twitter stream to accompany the tasting. The first half of the evening was the “Tasting in the Dark” where a group of tasters blind taste wines and rated them in order of favorites. It is hard to describe one of these tastings until you see it live: 5 tasters of varying professional levels around one table, 6 wines, multiple cameras- but the best part is the commentary! While the tasting takes place, there are two sports-like commentators giving viewers a play-by-play on the action at the table. This takes the tasting from a somewhat dull observance of 5 strangers around a table tasting wine to an exciting, thrilling, and thoroughly amusing piece of entertainment. The wines are then scored and the top 3 from the tasters are revealed to the audience.
H: After the tasting, the ToutSocial begins! We learned all about tequila from Jesus Padilla whose family has been producing Los Osuna since 1876, and he was the one who first brought it to the US. Chef Paul Wiggins prepared scallop ceviche and grilled albacore tacos to pair with the spirits. We were also lucky enough to try the Blue agave ice cream!
M: A few interesting facts that we took away from Jesus:
- To be a true tequila, the liquor must be made using 100% blue agave and also come from a specific area in Mexico. If not made within the Tequila region it is labeled Agave (think Champagne versus Sparkling Wine)
- There are 3 levels of tequila, each determined by the amount of time it is aged: Blanco- aged less than 2 months, Reposado- aged 2 months to 12 months, and Añejo- aged 12-36 months
- There is also “gold” tequila which is 51% blue agave but the other 49% can be fillers like corn ethanol (talk about a hangover)
M: When tasting tequila we learned to not swirl our glasses or sniff as we are trained to do so with wine, but rather to dab a small drop in our hands and rub until dry. As the alcohol evaporates it leaves a sticky residue in the palm of the hand, pure agave, that gives off beautiful and subtle aromas.
H: Now I can’t say that this is the first time that tequila had made it onto a part of my body other than my mouth… but this time it was different. The ritual of rubbing the tequila on your palms focused my attention and furthered my appreciation of the beverage even before it even hit my tongue, much like admiring a wine’s color or aroma before the sip. This ritual is something I will practice in the future when enjoying premium tequilas. Drinking wine is different than tasting wine – and the same goes for tequila.