Virtual Wine Tastings with Stags’ Leap Winery: a perfect way to shelter in place

Virtual Wine Tastings with Stags’ Leap Winery: a perfect way to shelter in place
Picture yourself on the porch at Stags Leap Winery sipping a 2016 Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah

With necessity being the mother of invention, during the global lockdown, one of the more creative “inventions” is the virtual wine tasting.

You may not be able to go to Napa (or Sonoma or wherever your dream vineyard may be), in person, but many wineries are offering “virtual’ tastings.

Last Thursday evening, I attended my first virtual tasing with Stags’ Leap Winery. It won’t be my last.

Stags Leap Winery Manor House.

Stags Leap Winery Manor House.

Stags’ Leap initiated the virtual tastings on instagram live on the last Thursday in March. The virtual tastings will continue throughout the month of April and beyond–until the winery reopens.

To participate, just follow Stags’ Leap Winery on instagram. Then download or log into your instagram account a few minutes before the Thursday tastings (3:00pm PST/6:00pm EST) and click on live when it pops up.

What to expectslw-christophe-paubert-winemaker-4

Last Thursday, we were treated to a tour of Ne Cede Mali’s vineyard and a tasting with winemaker Christophe Paubert (pictured above).

slw2016necedemalispetitesirah750scPaubert discussed the 125-year  history of the winery and the Stags’ Leap District of Napa Valley, while we tasted the 2016 Ne Cede Mali Petit Sirah.

Ne Cede Malis (pronounced Ne KAY Day Mah LEES) comes from the Latin phrase “Don’t give in to misfortune,” the family motto of Stags’ Leap founder Horace Chase.

We were able to comment and asks questions throughout the feed that lasted about 45 minutes.

I asked a question about cheese pairings for the wine. Xavier Plascencia, Stags’ Leap Winery’s Hospitality Sales Manager, said the 2016 Ne Cede Mali Petit Sirah pairs well with a variety of cheeses but suggested (since I’m from Chicago) that I try pairing it with a nearby Wisconsin cheese Merlot – Bellavitano.

Are you in?

Then let’s get started. First you need the wine.


Here is a list of the upcoming themed tastings for the rest of April, which is also posted at and on Instagram, @stagsleapwinery:

  • 4/23: 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 The Leap Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 4/30: 2016 Block 20 Merlot, 2015 Audentia Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines can be purchased in advance online at the Stags’ Leap Winery website or go to their Store Locator to check for local availability.


All purpose wine glass from Crate and Barrel.

All purpose wine glass from Crate and Barrel.

Next you need glasses. After all, you want to drink a good bottle out of a Dixie cup like Paul Giamatti in “Sideways.”

Traditional and popular glasses are available from Riedel, Zalto, or Schott Zwiesel.

Or if you are short on storage or cash, check out Master of Wine Jancis Robinson’s all-purpose glass on the high end.

Or you can purchase more budget friendly options such as the all-purpose glass at Crate and Barrel  for $4.95. Or kick things up a notch with Spiegelau Universal’s crystal wine glasses on sale at $39.99 for a set of 4.


Go the Stags’ Leap website to learn a little about the wine before the tasting.


Whether you are tasting alone, with a significant other or a socially distanced group of friends, you may want to give some thought to the atmosphere.

You can create a warm, inviting atmosphere, with lighting dim enough to keep it moody, but bright enough to see the wine. Unscented candles can add a nice touch. Or if the weather is nice you can take the tasting outdoors to the deck or patio.


Since Stags’ Leap virtual wine tastings are relatively short, having some cheese. bread and water is probably all you’ll want. Click here for some cheese pairing ideas.


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