foodie: wine tasting at the Ritz!

Last night Liz and I were invited to a “special event” at the Ritz-Carlton by Martha. Checking in with twitter all day does sometimes pay off! After the initial “woo hoo!” wore off, I checked out what I’d gotten myself into and pretty much realized it was a pretty familiar experience: come enjoy some free ____ and let us tell you about an amazing opportunity! As Martha said, it was a dog & pony show, but not a bad one.

I’ve seen a lot of these in my time. In the few years after leaving college, while staying with my parents in Delaware, I attended more than a few of them. I’ve proven my inventory skills with a numeric keypad, I’ve dismantled and reassembled vacuum cleaners, I’ve sat and listened to and even helped someone else work on their pitch for Cutco knives. Those sorts of things gave way to the Tupperware Party event whether it was for high-end kitchen stuff or sex toys. Wine Shop at Home is a similar styled opportunity, there’s a hosted tasting, guests place orders and are shipped the wine. I admire that it’s direct selling, no inventory stored in advance at the home of the seller.

I hadn’t been to any events at the Ritz-Carlton at Pentagon City before, so this was fun. On my way in, a glance at the events agenda showed that a lot of event rooms were busy that night, but all “events” no personal parties. Liz and I were concerned about being a little underdressed, but I realized that rocking the casual/jeans look in a high-class place makes you feel a bit like a celebrity. Not that it really matters, the staff treats all guests like royalty: doors opened, cars stopped–for which I was grateful as a taxi was about to run me down.

As stated earlier, it was a dog & pony show as there were some consultants there and their invited guests. Apparently, they’re only just now able to extend their business into DC, so it was a big deal. The CEO John Lynch was there and spoke about the business and about the vacations and about the wine and about the vacations and about the wine… and the wine… and the wine. Being the good little attendee that I was, I was taking some notes both on the evening and the wines I tasted. I wasn’t too much of a fan of the Sunfish Chardonnay or the Avalon Pinot Grigio, but the Pied Violet (Purple Foot) Cab-Sauv was very tasty and really had a nice depth of flavor–you can check these out at Martha’s page. Every consultant gets a free customized web site with membership.

Lynch was a good speaker, though he did make one joke that I didn’t find particularly funny, but from the reaction of the room I’m not sure they even knew he’d just told a joke. When talking about his niece explaining how Pampered Chef worked to him:

Pampered Chef?
I thought that was a chef named Bruce. *snap*

Hm, witty. He also used the “ATM motion” when speaking to imply sincerity. Otherwise it was a nice presentation with lot of cheerleaders in the audience. Apparently it isn’t hard to sell (mostly) women on the idea of earning money by hosting parties, selling wine and earning both money and fabulous vacations. It seemed that the (mostly Caucasian) moms, whether working or stay-at-home, were their key demographic. It was a bit like being in church, or a movie at Union Station, many of the consultants present felt the need to testify, sometimes interrupting the speakers. The concept of Stepford Wines started to come to mind, but it was a good time.

I don’t think this is the kind of thing for me, but I won’t deny that it looks like a lot of fun for the properly motivated person. Liz was intrigued and I was impressed by their business model. Neither of us (so far as I know) signed up for a starter kit last night, however. I need to browse the inventory of wines a bit. Much as I love wine, I’m more about practicality. I go the supermarket for cooking wines and Best Cellars for drinking or gift wines because you get great stuff for usually $20 or less.

Even though this was a sales event, it felt good to get out and do something to appease my inner foodie. I feel as though I’ve been neglecting it a bit of late. I still make a lot of nice meals at home, but there’s something to be said for going out to a nice place and having someone else treat you well and serve you and sampling dishes with ingredients that you probably couldn’t easily get on your own. I also need to make a weekend pilgrimage to both Eastern Market and Dean & Deluca sometime soon. I’m not normally one to get out and about in the late Fall, but our weather has been enough on the moderate side that it isn’t that much a pain to be out when it’s sunny-chilly.

This week is going to be an interesting balance of cultural events, but more on that later. :mrgreen:

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