Town Chronicle

Let your home become a tasting room through online apps



It seems like there are two main reasons for some big (and recent) changes in the wine world, and in how wine lovers get together to share their enjoyment and appreciation.

First, of course, was the pandemic, which closed every single wine country tasting room and caused the wineries to search for new ways to engage their prospects. And second is the phenomenal increase in the use of online conferencing apps like Zoom, GoToMeeting and others.

One company that has carved out a big space in this new wine world is Sommsation, founded in 2021, which offers virtual wine tastings conducted by its own crew of sommeliers and sample bottles from several wineries it partners with in California, Oregon and Washington.

It works like this: You go to its website and browse among over 150 options. You can choose a tasting of red wines, whites, sparking or a mixture. Or, you can specify a particular region, varietal or theme. For example, choose wines from Napa and Sonoma in California, or select the “Full Throttle Flight,” which offers three bottles of densely-flavored Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.



There are other options, too, like a tour of single-varietal wines, such as Zinfandel, Viognier and Syrah. Select the tasting you want and the date and time. Sommsation delivers the wines to your door and sets up the virtual meeting link. Then you and your friends group around your computer screen or relax in front of your smart TV, and a sommelier joins you live to lead your tasting experience.

The whole program is headed up by Danielle Diliberti and certified sommelier Elyse Lovenworth. They also summon a team of over 25 sommeliers and wine experts available to host your private event. According to Diliberti, “We take pride in empowering wine drinkers to indulge their thirst for great wines by giving them access to limited-production wineries and world-class sommeliers in one place.”

There are plenty of reasons to sample wine with the guidance of an expert who’s right in front of you. Diliberti notes that people often “end up tasting nuances and flavors” that you generally wouldn’t experience without an expert guide. And you get answers to every question you ask.

In essence, your home becomes the tasting room, and you’re experiencing great wines with your own group of friends, sharing their impressions and observations about what’s in your glass. How is that a bad idea?

And, you can plan your virtual tasting party around any special event. “We’ve done Sommsation tastings for people who are celebrating marriages and even the birth of a child,” notes Danielle Didiberti. And she invites you to browse the many types of tastings available at

While you’re doing that, you might also browse this week’s selections.

St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger “Alte Reben” Riesling 2021 ($23) – For Riesling lovers, the Saar region may not be as wellknown as the Mosel, but this “alte reben” (old vine) Riesling strikes a nice balance between bracing acidity and slight sweetness. We noted flavors of Granny Smith apple and Bosc pear, which would make this a great accompaniment to Asian cuisine. Nice. Wine Whisperer rating 89-90

Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021 ($14) – A quintessential New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a typical nose of grapefruit, pineapple and citrus. Light peach flavors on the palate. Great with seafood, and a steal at the price. WW 89-90

BR Cohn Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyard 2019 ($40) – If you like ’em buttery and oaky, this is the wine for you. Deep yellow in the glass, with aromas of butter for days. Think melon, crème brulee, and caramel. Nicely balanced for all that. WW 92

Fontanafredda Barolo 2018 ($50) – Possibly the most translucent Barolo we’ve ever seen. Pleasant aromas and flavors of mint and orange peel. Very light-bodied for this type of wine. WW 87

Ask the Wine Whisperer

Does wine really get better as it gets older?

— Jenna K., Jacksonville

Winemakers know that we want to enjoy our wine purchase right away, so most popular-priced wines are ready to drink as soon as you bring them home from the wine shop. If you order online, it’s a good idea to let the bottles sit and settle for a few days before opening. However, many of the “big” wines, like the high-end Bordeaux and Burgundies, do benefit from bottle age. And so do some others. We opened a bottle of a 1974 Napa Valley red not long ago, and it was spectacular.

— Jerry Greenfield is the Wine Whisperer. Read his blog and order his books at

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