Andy Mossack experiences an online wine tasting experience with VIVANT, a new wine platform that aims to teach us how to enjoy organic fine wines via live streaming masterclasses.
Delving into food and wine pairing has always been something of a voyage of discovery for me. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity of enjoying a chef’s tasting menu, it’s normally the sommeliers who do all the hard pairing work for me and I sit back, take their word for it, and just enjoy myself.
Nevertheless, it’s well worth delving into this mysterious world of vinification, if only to fathom out if wine pairing is all smoke and mirrors theatre, or there really is a science behind it.
The VIVANT platform is impressive in several ways. It’s dedicated to responsible organic winemaking which is a noble gesture in itself, but it’s also educating us about wines and wine regions around the world without having to exploit our carbon footprints using plane travel. Launched by Château de Pommard, a 300-year-old Burgundy winery and backed by Californian tech entrepreneur Michael Baum, it brings the talents and expertise of a global community of sustainable winemakers directly into our homes.
Baum calls it a “Netflix for wine experiences” and for anyone with a passing interest in fine wines, it certainly warrants a serious look. There’s a team of experienced wine advisors on hand, an ever-expanding series of video clips on wine regions and winemakers, and, perhaps best of all, live tasting experiences hosted by wine experts who can take us through the flavours of different grapes and regions to the above-mentioned magic of pairing with food.
I realised this was a serious business as soon as my tasting kit arrived. An elegantly crafted white box (made entirely of sustainable materials obviously) gently embracing six 100 ml glass wine tubes suitably branded with the relevant domain, wine, and vintage. My session joining instructions enclosed in an embossed envelope. As first impressions went, it didn’t get much higher. This was quite clearly a very classy act.
I had two reds: Bourgogne Pinot Noir and Pauillac Liberale, and four whites: Petit Chablis, Pinot Gris, Pouilly Fuisse and Petit Guiraud Sauterne.
I was booked into “The essentials of food and wine pairing,” a 40-minute live session hosted by wine expert Olivier Bouchard taking me through the basics of bringing out the best way to enjoy the right foods with my wine selection. Armed with a few plain crisps, a drop of vinegar, some walnuts, aged parmesan and a soft brie I was taken on a tasting journey across salty, sour, bitter, fatty and sweet flavours finding out how the right wines can best interact with them.
This was a slick and thoroughly engaging session. Bouchard’s live demonstration interspersed with short video clips around each flavour and its chemical makeup. I was asked questions about the wines both before and after tasting my nibbles, in a sort of taste-off with other members of the virtual audience. This is VIVANT’s Interactive Tasting Method, a genius way of allowing participants to gain wine IQ and tasting points through competing against each other and comparing their answers to the expert’s wine profiles.
I found the whole experience an absolute joy. Of course, it helps when you have a clutch of very tasty fine wines to enjoy. In particular, the Domaine Isabelle & Denis Pommier Petit Chablis Hautérivien 2018 (£26) and Domaine Antoine Lienhardt Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2018 (£23) were total knockouts for me.
VIVANT has enough basic interest to engage with wine lovers who enjoy drinking, have little technical knowledge but are keen to learn more, and a wealth of information for those who are serious about their wines. In other words, it has all the bases covered. I think Baum’s ‘Netflix for wines’ description is right on the money. Within an annual membership format, you can enjoy feedback from experts, buy bottles of wine direct from the wineries, learn about wines from around the world and enjoy live tasting sessions.
My tasting session was a brief introduction to wine painting but long enough for me to realise there’s certainly no smoke and mirrors here, just pure science. And given the right ingredients, food and wine have an opportunity to taste even better and I’d certainly like to investigate this in more detail. After all, why should a sommelier get all the fun?
Tell me more about the VIVANT Interactive Wine Platform
VIVANT operates through an annual membership format. This includes unlimited access to wine experiences, answers to wine questions from expert wine advisors at any time, wine purchases, wine education, the Interactive Tasting Method, and five free experience passes to share with friends is £149 per year. Tasting kits are available from £52 up to £160 depending on which wines are included. 30-day free trial.