Cheers! Wine Consultants

By Dan & Krista Stockman


Millions of people being stuck at home appears to be good for wine sales. Nielsen data shows wine sales up more than 30 percent – outpacing quarantine-time growth of other categories of alcohol.

But being at home doesn't mean you have to drink alone. Virtual Happy Hours are the latest way many are coping with social isolation. We've had a few Saturday Night Wine Zooms, and while they don't completely replace in-person wine gatherings, they are a lot of fun. And no one has to drive home afterward.

Because no one has other plans, it's actually easier to schedule get-togethers with friends. In the month of April, we virtually met up with friends on three Saturdays – something we would never be able to do when we have Taekwondo tournaments, Philharmonic concerts and other commitments.

How do you hold a virtual Happy Hour? Easy.

First, pick your platform. We've used both FaceTime and Zoom. The nice thing about Zoom is you can schedule in advance and send invites to those who will be attending. Keep the number of people in the Happy Hour small. We've had three and four couples in our parties. Three seems optimal, but four is manageable, depending on the group.

Next, decide if you're going to have a theme. We haven't done this yet, as our gatherings have really been more about the socializing, although we do show others what we are drinking and ask them what's in their glasses. When we do this with our neighborhood wine club, we will certainly pick a theme and spend more time talking about the wines. With a theme, you could have everyone trying the same three or four wines or pick a country and let everyone choose their own wines. Either way would be fun.

When it's time to start, make sure you're in a place with good front lighting. Don't sit in front of a window, as it will make it difficult for others to see your face. Set your display to grid view once the event is going so you can see everyone at once. Make sure you're in a relatively quiet place, as background noise is easily picked up and can make it hard for others to hear you and each other. Of course, being at home with kids and dogs can make this difficult, but do the best you can.

You also want to keep things steady – while you always want to keep things steady when drinking alcohol, in this case we're talking about the phone or tablet you're using. When one participant is holding their phone in their hand, the rest can feel like they're watching “The Blair Witch Project,” which is bad enough when you're not drinking. Do everyone a favor and find a way to prop up whatever your camera is attached to.

During the Happy Hour, you won't have the same side conversations as when you're in person, so the dynamic of the gathering will be different. But once everyone is settled, you'll find a rhythm. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak, and remember to be a good listener.

Ending a Happy Hour can be even more difficult virtually than in person. No one has to drive home or catch a Lyft or Uber, so when you're having a good time catching up, the time flies by. Don't be afraid to be the first one to say you need to go – even if you're the meeting host. Schedule a next time to gather and follow through on it.

And your Happy Hour/Wine Zoom/FaceWine doesn't even have to be about wine: The New York Times has tips on hosting a virtual cocktail party for whatever you're drinking.


Do you have a virtual Happy Hour story to share? We would love to hear it. Email us at Would you want to attend a virtual tasting if we held one? Let us know about that, too.

Wine brings us together - even when it's virtual