Though their first exposure to wine may have been a box of Franzia, the cohort of millennials interested in drinking and tasting real wine, and the amount of disposable income they have at hand to do so, is on the rise. Yet big wine tasting events haven't shifted to meet the interests of younger wine drinkers, with sedate environs and dull classes focusing on those who've already become connoisseurs. The twentysomething team of Tyler Balliet and Morgan First, otherwise known as Second Glass, are aiming to change all that. Their Wine Riot tasting events have been huge hits in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and now they're throwing a Wine Riot in their new home base of SF (they moved here in November) for the first time.
Instead of focusing on one particular region, varietal, or price point, Balliet, First, and their team are using their event to showcase the full breadth of wine, with more than half of the 300 wines available hailing from outside the U.S. They'll also have a mixture of small, artisanal labels and larger wines that appear in grocery aisles, ensuring that drinkers of every stripe can find a glass of vino that appeals to them. And since keeping track of favorite sips can get complicated after an hour or two of drinking, Wine Riot guests can download a free iPhone or Android app that helps them log their favorite glugs right on their smartphone, making it easy to find them again the next time they're at the store.
Wine Riot also offers a fresh take on the educational component of tasting events, with lively mini-seminars that only run 20 minutes (including tastings), on topics like Portuguese wines or German rieslings. Since many young wine drinkers would like to know more about what's in their glass, but don't want to miss out on time with the groups of friends they've brought with them, these short seminars allow them to gain a little extra knowledge without sacrificing socializing.
In addition to the wine component, Wine Riot will also include lively music from DJ Andie Cassette ("no smooth jazz," the team notes), a photobooth, temporary tattoos, and a squadron of food trucks to help absorb some of that extra vino. The Concourse Exhibition Center on 8th Street is playing host, allowing for plenty of room to house all the different wineries (and the numerous drinkers).
To keep things relaxed and personable, Wine Riot will actually happen three times over the course of this weekend: Friday night (7-11 pm), Saturday afternoon (1-5 pm), and Saturday evening (7-11 pm). Tickets are $60 for the Friday event and $50 for both Saturday events, and include unlimited tastings; food will be available for $5-10 extra.