Uncorking the Secrets of Wine Tasting Events with Anthony Giglio

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Episode description

Ever think we’d do a live wine tasting on the podcast?

Neither did we.

Grab your choice of wine, and let’s get the party started.

In this episode, Anthony Giglio, Speaker, Writer, Author, and Wine Expert, joins the show to discuss all things wine. From the importance of that first sip to challenging traditional pairing rules, Anthony brings a fresh and entertaining perspective to the art of wine tasting.

We'll explore the joy of unexpected pairings like champagne and popcorn and discover how Anthony's blue-collar roots have shaped his approach to wine tastings. Plus, he shares behind-the-scenes stories from his experiences hosting events and seminars that will leave you wanting to uncork a bottle and join the fun.

So grab a glass, pour yourself a drink, and get ready for this week’s episode.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why the first sip never counts
  • Why you cannot have wine without food
  • Why you MUST chill your red wine

Things to listen for:

[03:42] The need for either fat or salt with wine

[07:52] Why acid and tannin make wine dry

[12:10] The importance of pairing with your wine

[18:34] Types of common wine tastings

[20:21] Why red wine must be kept cool

[28:10] Why engaging content keeps people wanting more

Meet your host

Rachel Andrews, Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Cvent

Meet your guest speaker

Anthony Giglio, Speaker, Writer, Author, and Wine Expert

Episode Transcript

Anthony Giglio: The first sip of wine professionally, we call the Rinse. And this is something I want everyone to understand really clearly. How many times have we all walked into a party or walked into a bar or walked into a friend's house and you're drinking something else and a friend says, oh, my God, you have to try this. And you take a sip of theirs and you're like, I'm good with what I've got. And why is that? Because your palate isn't ready. So I have toothpaste, maybe you have coffee. Whatever's on your palate, no matter what it is, it will affect how that first sip affects you, like how it tastes to you. And it's never going to be good for our listeners.

SHOW ID: Next up on the podcast, we are doing a live wine tasting. So if you care to join along, grab a bottle and a glass and a snack, some sort of potato chip, and join along. Hope you enjoy. Cheers to a great podcast. Great events create great brands, and it takes a village to put on an event that engages, excites and connects audiences to your brand. And we're that village. I'm Alyssa. I'm Paulina. And I'm Rachel. And you're listening to Great Events, the podcast for all people interested in events and marketing.

Rachel Andrews: Hi, everybody. What is going on in the wide, wide world of events? My name is Rachel, and welcome to this week's fabulous episode of Great Events on the cvent’s Great Events podcast. We are changing things up a little bit on this episode, so grab some wine. Literally, we're going to be talking to a wine expert and I am actually going to do a wine tasting with him very quickly. Just to note that it is almost noon in Denver, and I'm going to be drinking red wine. So very fun show.

Rachel Andrews: Anthony is our esteemed guest, Anthony Giglio. I have worked with him many, many moons ago, back when I was at Morgan Stanley. And Anthony is a wine expert, a journalist, a contributor to Food and Wine. He does a lot of everything and I'll let him introduce himself. So, Anthony, welcome to the podcast.

Anthony Giglio: Thank you for having me, Rachel. Thrilled to be here, actually.

Rachel Andrews: Awesome. Before we get and jump into the wine tasting, why don't you give just a two second introduction on who you are, what you do. Maybe not your whole story. We can get into how you did that, but you do a lot of different things with wine education, and you're an expert.

Anthony Giglio: Thank you. I'm a journalist first who studied to be a sommelier so that I could learn to use the tools of wine tasting and the vocabulary to then write about wine. And that's what launched my wine writing career 30 years ago. And it led to a lot of speaking gigs, so it led to judging and hosting tastings. And somehow, especially over the last 15 years or so, it turned into a lot of corporate wine gigs, tastings, team appreciation, client entertaining. That's how I met you a long time ago, probably, what was that, 15 years ago? That's my bread and butter. The fun stuff is. I'm a contributor to Food and Wine, as you mentioned.

Anthony Giglio: But I'm also the wine director for American Express for the American Express Centurion Global Lounge Network. A lot of words there. But I love what I do because it's always based on wine tasting, which is why I've demanded that you have a bottle ready. And I'm so glad you showed up with a beautiful bottle of Rivera del Duero at 1145 this morning. I appreciate that. And we're going to taste some wine and it's going to change the way you taste wine forever. It is a guarantee, Rachel, for you and everyone listening, who maybe rewinds and does this together with their loved ones or drinking partners, you will never taste wine the same again.

Rachel Andrews: And since people are listening, we'll try to describe things verbally for everybody not watching the video, but yeah, so let's do it. Let's do a quick one and we'll get into some of the other content.

Anthony Giglio: So pretending that if this were live and people could have a chance to run and grab something I asked you the same thing, Rachel, when you came on. Not only do we need a bottle of wine, and it could be any color, shape, size, sparkling, still or white or red, but grab a snack. You absolutely cannot taste wine thoroughly without a little fat and salt. And that's an ugly way of saying something really fun, like a bag of potato chips or some great salted nuts. It could be anything as fancy as a full on meal, but a little fat, a little salt. Think of anything in your pantry or a big hunk of cheese in the fridge and we can get the party started. So let's pour some wine in our glasses.

Rachel Andrews: I can't believe I won't lie and say this is my first time drinking on the podcast, because I've certainly done it before, but no judgment, please.

Anthony Giglio: And by coincidence, this is how we were already mind melded without even trying. And I both picked wines from Spain, which is insane. It's totally insane. I've been saying for three decades that Spain represents the greatest value on the planet. And that doesn't mean cheap wine, it means underpriced wine, because none of us know what we're talking about. Right? So you have a beautiful Roberto del Duero, which is probably primarily Temporinillo, the grape temporinillo. And I have a beautiful Valde Albert from El Mentridano, which is a garnacha. So this is grenache.

Anthony Giglio: Mine's a little softer. Mine would be medium bodied. Yours is full bodied. But they're going to be terrific at noon right now. So let's do this really quickly. Rachel, grab the glass. Right. We don't have to do all the fancy schmancy, swirling and sniffing, all that, but I would say this.


Anthony Giglio: We're going to take a sip right now and not think about it. We're just going to take a sip and down it goes. Don't even talk about it. This is called the first sip and I'll explain in a second. Cheers.

Rachel Andrews: Cheers.

Anthony Giglio: I just banged the camera. All right. I don't know about you. I brushed my teeth in advance of our conversation because I always worry that the next filter on these zoom style tastings is smell of vision. So I'm always ready for you with fresh breath. But the truth is, my wine tastes chalky and bitter because I literally have toothpaste in my mouth. Now, I'm not asking you to say anything yet because I don't want you to think there's a right answer or wrong answer. The first sip of wine, professionally, we call the Rinse.

And this is something I want everyone to understand really clearly. How many times have we all walked into a party or walked into a bar or walked into a friend's house and you're drinking something else and a friend says, oh, my God, you have to try this. And you take a sip of theirs and you're like, I'm good with what I've got. And why is that? Because your palate isn't ready. So I have toothpaste. Maybe you have coffee. Whatever's on your palate, no matter what it is, it will affect how that first sip affects you, like how it tastes to you. And it's never going to be good.

Anthony Giglio: It's never going to be as good as this second sip we're about to taste.

Rachel Andrews: Is that why I'd have to drink a whole bottle of wine? Just to know if I like it? Yes.

Anthony Giglio: You really need to make sure your palate accepts it. I get it. Rachel, you're not alone here. No, but seriously, think about that, everybody, how many times we take one sip and make a judgment. And here I'm saying to you right now, the rule is for the rest of your life, your rest of your drinking days, you have to take at least two sips. So this sip is going to be a little different. Ready, everybody? If you have your glass ready, we're going to take a sip. But Rachel, don't swallow.

Anthony Giglio: Hold on. I'm going to ask you this for me. Take a sip. I'll have my mouth full too, so I'm going to actually do a swirling synth, like with my finger. I'm going to just do like, a swirl in front of my mouth and then thumbs back means down the hatch and then pay attention. What happens? It's completely different. Get ready to have your mind blown. Cheers.

Anthony Giglio: Second sip for ballad. Cheers. Okay, down it goes. I want you to wait a beat and think about it. There is a flood pouring into your mouth right now, and it's going to run down the gutter like here, down by your lower jaw, between your cheek and your lower teeth. It goes over your teeth, down under your tongue. And that's this flood between fruit and acid. This is the sensation you get with every glass of wine, white, red, and sparkling.

Anthony Giglio: When fruit and acid are fighting for dominance, acid will always win. But fruit is the juiciness. Acid comes in and dries it up. Right now, though, think about it. We're about 30 seconds in. You start to feel a little tingling dryness on your cheeks. And then you wait another 30 seconds or so and you're going to feel your upper gums starting to pull a little bit. This is a little bit of that tannin coming in because it's red wine.

Anthony Giglio: It's also the acid licking every space in between your teeth, trying to find something to eat. There's nothing there yet. And then in about another few seconds, you're going to start to feel from the back of your throat forward. The roof of your mouth starts to tighten. And this is tannin locking down all of the fruit. It's going to get drier and drier. I got a little bit of cotton mouth right now and your wine is bigger than mine, so you're probably ahead of me. You have more tannin in your wine than I have in mind.

Anthony Giglio: That bittering sensation, that's like a puckery sensation in red wine. But right now I'm getting drier all around, holistically drier in my mouth less. There's note like a little bit of saliva is still here between my lips, but it's getting drier and this could take three, four minutes. So Rachel, I'm married 25 years, and my wife will be like, wait a second. Are you listening to me? And I'm like, babe, it's still balancing. This is like a four minute cabernet. This is like a seven minute blah, blah, blah. And she's like, it's a hilarious I've.

Rachel Andrews: Never heard it described like that before. This is eye opening.

Anthony Giglio: Here's what I would say at this moment. You now have a clean palate. You could judge right away whether you like this wine or not with a neutral palate which you just tasted. And here's what I've asked everybody when I taste together, before you say I love it or I don't love it, know that a there's no right or wrong answer here. Actually, there is one wrong answer and that is white's infidel. But we're not going to talk about that. Come on, Rachel. That's funny.

Anthony Giglio: That's really funny. But seriously, knowing that I didn't make this wine, you can't hurt my feelings. I didn't pay for this wine. It was a gift from someone. So I had no hard feelings. But that said, do you like this wine? Knowing that I couldn't care less if you don't because we're not done tasting it yet. Do you like this wine or not?

Rachel Andrews: My breakfast wine is delicious. It's definitely full body.

Anthony Giglio: You're already winning already. You're winning if your breakfast wine is already delicious. But Rachel, plenty of people will be like, if I say, let's be honest, they're like, it's a little too dry for me, a little too fruity for me. I prefer white when I'm drinking red or I'm drinking red, I prefer white. So I say, okay, now grab fat plus salt. So I'm not going to lie, these are a little bit bougie. These are not just regular chips. These are those terras that my wife buys.

Rachel Andrews: I am like definitely a sea salt junkie. So I've got myself some kettle.

Anthony Giglio: All right, so let's take a bite of any chip and then we'll take a third sip and all best.

Rachel Andrews: ASMR for our listeners, I'm so sorry.

Anthony Giglio: But I'm hoping you could recreate this. If you play this back at home, do it with your friend, they'll be blown away. I'm telling you. Three sips for life. You'll be blown away. Take a bite of our chips.

Rachel Andrews: Okay.

Anthony Giglio: That's good. By the way, it's 02:00 p.m. Here in New York. I'm starving. I haven't had lunch yet, so this is a good way to keep it going.

Rachel Andrews: This is a great lunch. Red wine and a bottle of potato chips. Honestly, they have great potato chips in Spain as well.

Anthony Giglio: Oh, my God.

Rachel Andrews: Like real good olive oil.

Anthony Giglio: Yes. My deli down the block sells two flavors of Spanish potato chips. One is truffle and one is sea salt. And they're so, so good.

Rachel Andrews: Okay, great.

Anthony Giglio: Third sip. Here we go. Rachel, third sip. All bets are off. It's going to get even better than before because of the fat and the oil. Cheers. Cheers. I want you to think about it.

Anthony Giglio: Down it goes. Remember that big flood that was coming down your gutter here? It's now under your tongue. There's the big puddle under your palate. And it's going to just keep flooding over your tongue and surrounding it and it's going to salivate and dissipate. Salivate, dissipate. This is brutal acid at work, but all the fat is concentrated on your palate. Acid is having so much fun right now. I call acid and wine.

Anthony Giglio: The zamboni hockey fans know what I'm talking about. Ice skaters. It comes across the palate and slowly wicks it clean. And meanwhile another flood comes up. That's fruit. And then the acid just comes in and wicks it clean. And it's going to keep going for minutes. None of us pay attention, but you will.

Anthony Giglio: Now remember this for the rest of your life. You're drinking wine and all of a sudden you're like, oh, there's that sensation. I love that. That's really juicy and delicious. But after the second sip, it's very juicy. The third sip, though, after you add food, the wine is less acidic and much more round and voluptuous because you've calmed down the acid, you've calmed down the tannins. Now the wine just seems like it's expanding and it's just beautiful, rich and big. I love it.

Anthony Giglio: What's your reaction? Honestly, like I said, you don't have to say anything nice. You could say this is BS. But I really think it's impactful.

Rachel Andrews: It's great. I think in the past, I've definitely smelled wine, done the whole smelling sensation, taken a sip and then judged it right off the first sip or even second sip. But I've never really thought through it with the pairing. And I've gone to a lot of wine tastings in napa or sonoma or even some of the other regions in Europe, but everyone has a different style of taking you through the experience. I hope that the listeners can back this up and then do this at home just to see what we just went through and experienced, because it was kind of cool to have that. You were describing what was happening as it was happening.

Anthony Giglio: And I always joke, I'm like, I'm in your mouth. It's hilarious, but it's true. But, Rachel, what I would say this to every listener, you will never taste wine the same again. Slow down and do this. But it also changes the way you approach wine going forward and introduce it to friends as well. Right. So, by the way, the sad news is when that friend offers you a sip, you might be taking more than one now. So sorry for being so generous, but it's going to happen.

Anthony Giglio: But also use the word pairing. And I want to show that's great to use because it's such a loaded word, everybody thinks that there's a perfect pairing, that this goes with this and this doesn't go with this. And I'm here to say a bag of potato chips goes with everything. By the way, the greatest pairing for champagne, which is so highbrow, is a bag of microwave popcorn. There is no greater joy on the planet than making a bag of newman's own sea salt popcorn and opening a good bottle of champagne on a rainy monday night. It just makes the whole day brighter. It'll change everything. Certainly caviar would be better, but I don't know about you, I don't have my hands on much caviar lately.

Anthony Giglio: I have plenty of good popcorn in the house. So that's how I approach tastings. And this is why I'm fortunate enough to get hired over and over again, because I come at this from a very practical angle. I try to get people excited about this and know that there's not some fancy stuffy. Now let us appreciate the color and their legs and all this other nonsense that master sommes can get into. I just say let's talk about whether we like it or not, but we have to give it a fair shot and that's giving it three sips. And then let's have some fun knowing that there really is no such thing as a perfect pairing, because if we were honest with ourselves and everyone thinks, oh, I'm not a wine expert, you're the wine expert, I turn it around and say, but you're the expert of your own palate. Let's pretend, Rachel, that we go out to dinner, you get fish, I get steak.

Anthony Giglio: What's the wine we agree on? Right. There's no perfect idea there, but there's plenty of ideas we can have fun with that just to say, like, or we both get burgers. But I'm not making fun. I'm not assuming you would get well done, but I'm just talking about how things go sideways. You get well done, I get rare, because our tastes are so different. But can we agree on a wine? Absolutely. We could just have some fun and take a stab and see where it goes.

Rachel Andrews: Well, I'm a rare girl all the way, so don't worry about that.

Anthony Giglio: All right. We will both have our moving burgers together.

Rachel Andrews: Mowing burgers. Yeah. Well, tell us I mean, thank you for the tasting. I hope that people use it to actually try this method. But how did you get into this? Tell us how you started out. I know you gave us a little bit of background, and then I want to get into the event side of things because our listeners, as you know, are event design experts and curators of all sorts of group business. So tell us about you. I know you say journalists first, but also you're doing all these events throughout your career.

Anthony Giglio: Yeah. So my pithy answer to tell me how you got started. I would say in utero. I come from a wine loving, booze loving family. My mother drank Manhattan's and dyed her hair and smoked Parliament's while she was pregnant with me. So that explains a lot of my great palate and my height deficiency. But other than that, we drank wine at the table. We're Italian American family in Jersey.

Anthony Giglio: The wine was on the table on Sundays, and the kids got it, too. And I don't say this lightly. They taught us that wine belonged on the table with food. They gave it to the kids. We got a little floater of cream soda or ginger ale on top. But it was to teach us that wine and food belonged together, and there was no science to it. And that really, really informed me much later in life when I started to figure out what I wanted to do when I became a sommelier and listened to all of the fancy ideas of food pairing. I went to a very fancy French school, the Sommelier Society of America.

Anthony Giglio: And I remember saying to the dean of the school, Roger del Gorn, he's a master sommelier, still works in New York right now. It's a great guy. That was 30 years ago, though, when we had anything on the table. The wine was in the middle of the table, along with all of the other condiments like oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, bowls of grated, parmesan and pizza parlor, shakers of hot red pepper seeds, and carafes of ice cold red wine that I decanted from the jug with my cousin when I was seven. And the wine was in the middle of the table along with all the other things that you put on the table to make whatever's on a plate taste better. And if we could all think of it as wine, no matter what it is, is just there to make whatever's on the plate taste better. It's a great starting point for any conversation where people think there's a perfect pairing. So that's where it all began.

And then I started to write about it and I learned quickly. I was writing with a very high scholarly voice when I was in my twenty s and it was terrible. And I cringe when I read those articles. I figured out that I have a great knack for storytelling. I have a great knack for connecting the dots and putting people at ease and making us everyone in the room is an expert. By the time we leave of a gathering, everybody leaves informed, empowered and excited about tasting something, whether it's we're talking wine, spirits, beer, sake, whatever. But that's what I do. And it moved into a direction of me being hired by companies and big private banks and tech firms to entertain their clients because they could certainly find some Liais everywhere.

But those tend in general, they could be very informative but dry. And I bring comic relief to it all because I'm a blue collar kid from Jersey City who never forgets where I came from and always tries to make everyone connect. Probably based in Insecurity when I was younger, but just trying to level the field here. And so that's how I get so much repeat work. And I have to say, if you would ask me how much marketing do you do? And advertising, I'm ashamed to admit that I don't do anything like that, but blessed to admit that I get referred over and over and over again and I really have a great referral network that just keeps coming back.

Rachel Andrews: That's great. Well, speaking of referrals and events, let's talk about some of the events you do. Obviously, wine tastings to somebody may be really straightforward, but it's actually not. There's a lot of different things that you could do. Take us through some of the events you've kind of offered.

Anthony Giglio: I would say the two most common tastings I do there's the seated wine tasting dinner, like the big fancy dinner where we have a cocktail reception, and then we sit down and every course I'll take you through pairings like, okay, so for this first course, we're going to do a full bodied white with chefs. Blah, blah, blah. And then whether it's three courses or four courses, whatever the client wants to do, I'll pair wine with every course. But I'll always say this is one option of 1000 that you could have paired with this. But let's just start here by saying here's what we could do with this wine, and here's how you could think about it and what you could pair with it. It always work. I love throwing grenades in there, too. Like if we're having a fish course, which I always try to have the first course be a fish course, I'll add a light red wine, a super high acid light red that we could put next to fish.

Anthony Giglio: Because most people are afraid to pair red wine and fish thinking it's wrong, or they do it at home but don't want to admit it because they think it's wrong. And I'm like, what color is your tuna? What color is your salmon? They're certainly not white. Why is that rule of white with fish, red with meat? So ingrained in the American psyche. So I'm there to say, like, yeah, sure, that's a great safety if you have no idea what to do. But if you're willing to take some risk, there are plenty of red wines that drink white, especially if we were blindfolded. That's the giveaway. And it comes down to chilling red wine, too, by the way, which most people are afraid to do. Either they do it, sneakily in it, and they add ice to wine.

Anthony Giglio: They're afraid to tell me which I say, Please don't. I'd rather use frozen grapes. And that's a whole other thing. You could just keep bags of frozen grapes in your freezer and use them as ice cubes. It works. But chilling red, which should always be served at least below 65 degrees. But I have a little cheap wine fridge under my kitchen counter. I keep it at 52 for the reds and 42 for the whites.

And that's a great place to be because the greatest thing for me is to have a red wine that's a little too cold and have it come up in temperature. So, by the way, when I do all these events, I am the guy driving the catering team or the waiters, the sommelier, the wine crew nuts with my directions on how I want those wines kept in the cooler until 20 minutes before we need them. Like when I walk into a lot of events, there's always like a table with all the wines out to impress the guests. But that means red wine is sitting out for 2 hours. That is a big fat no no. And I'm like, that looks really pretty, but let's get it back in the cooler before anybody gets here or take it away as soon as they get here and get it in the cooler so that stuff could be in the 50s when we need it. Okay, that's one style. A classic wine tasting, right? Sometimes people will have me come in during a meeting, so like they're having a big conference or something, and they'll say, we just want to have a quick half hour or 45 minutes with you.

And they'll sit like classroom style, preset place mats in front of everyone with four glasses or six glasses. And we'll just have a quick, fun tasting that then will lead into a happy hour for half an hour for letting off steam. And then they go back into their meetings and I leave. And that's quick and easy and great. And then people will say to me, after they use me a few times, we'd love to change it up, can we do like a cocktail party style of thing? And this is where it gets tricky. So, Rachel, people pay me to hear me speak and tell stories that connect the just. And now let's talk about the history of Cabernet. I talk about wine in a way that it relates to other grapes and other wines and situations and a little bit of history and a little bit of trivia and a little bit of fun.

And it's all really a thread through a long story throughout the whole meal, right. I get paid to entertain as well. So when people say, can we do a cocktail party style wine wine tasting where everyone's standing and it's a walk around, that's a great idea, right? And I have a whole format, like a template I could give any catering director and say, here's what we're going to do, Rachel. We're going to start at 05:00 and we're going to have a half an hour of reception to try and make sure we have everybody in. And there's going to be a central station, which is like the curtite and bread and cheese and whatever, just little nibbles. And we'll serve everybody when they walk in. Sparkling wine or sparkling water or still water, obviously, but that's all they get. Meanwhile, there are four stations in four different corners of the main ballroom.

Or maybe there's little breakout rooms where we could have like one room is the Spanish Red and the one room is the Italian White or whatever, but four stations, and they're closed during reception, but people are all wandering around wondering when they get to have that. And they can't have it yet because we just want to have this critical mass of everyone coming in. They all have something in the hand already, so we've been good hosts to give them a drink in hand and then we kick off. So, Rachel, you introduce me and you tell me blah blah, and then I quickly say, okay, ten minutes of your time, because everyone's standing and different heights. Heels, no heels. I'm not the tallest guy in the room, so I don't want to keep people looking around trying to find me. And I'm on a mic, but I'll explain exactly what our thinking was about the theme and it might relate to either the conference theme or some theme. Say, here's what we're going to do, and there's all these different rooms and all these different wines and you can do whatever you want, but I would beg you to try them all, even if it's reds first, whites seconds or whatever.

I'll be working the. Party hand to hand combat. And I say that because I will not speak again. I've learned through hosting 10,000 of these tastings that you don't interrupt a party when people are up and walking around more than twice. It's hello and goodbye, not bing, bing, bing, bing bing, midway. And people are talking and they don't stop talking, by the way. And I'm not going to fight with everybody and yell and play the nun banging my roller on the desk like I need attention, attention. So it's something that works really well, but then in the debriefs, I get, I wish we heard more from you.

And I'm like I warned you that I can't interrupt. So even though I like the idea of a loosey goosey party where everyone walks around and has fun, you're not going to hear from me. And that's fine, and it might be fine for you, but if you really want the full presentation, we have to be seated, and everyone has to be comfortable and have a lot of wine in front of them. And we'll have a lot of fun.

Rachel Andrews: Right. Is there a favorite event that you've done or a unique event that you can share with folks?

Anthony Giglio: Oh, gosh, I'm headed tomorrow to Phoenix to host the it's called Gateway for Cancer Research. They've asked me last year to come in as a sommelier and I kind of took a leap of faith during that event. There were a lot of really poignant speeches from survivors or family members of survivors and it was sort of heavy. Right. As it should be, respectfully, of course, but I remember thinking at that moment and I went off script, we need to lighten this up a little bit. And I'm going to talk about wine and tell a really funny story and get people laughing a little bit. And it was a risk and it worked. And they have asked me to come back this year as the MC.

So it's always this over the top, beautiful. I've seen it in years past like this over the top gala where they really throw down, like, gorgeous place settings and tables and flowers and everyone's in black tie and it's a really great party and I run around pouring wine for everyone and think, give me an amazing budget to do that. And I get to spoil everybody with really great wines. But, yeah, for me, the more interactive, the better. I don't know if I have a favorite. Some of the greatest, I think, big moments of my life were at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. I've been hosting seminars there in like, a tent for 250 people where I'm on stage at a concert. People are so into it.

Rachel Andrews: I mean, everyone comes to that wine rock star.

Anthony Giglio: Yeah, right? It's kind of wild. And the high is so great. It's just so much fun for me. I joke that I'm a serial connector. I love connecting with people. I make a lot of connections on these dinners and tastings. People follow me on Instagram and then text me and DM me and ask me for advice all the time. And I always say, I'm so happy to be in touch with anybody I can when I can, within reason.

Just don't FaceTime me from the wine shop if we're really not good friends. But I'm happy to answer whatever I can. But it's something that just keeps on giving, and that's why the clients love it, too, because I'll share with them all the great feedback I get and say, I got seven thank yous last night, and they want to see them all, and it's just a good thing. I feel good about what I do, and I think it's something that really works.

Rachel Andrews: Well, you're bringing happiness to events, too. It's not like you're coming in and you're creating positive impact to the events. I have to ask because we went through the pandemic, and obviously virtual was a thing, and I know it's still a thing, but how do you make those successful? Because even us just doing it on the podcast, it's kind of tough because it's like there's stuff that maybe you have that I don't have at my house. I'm assuming you ship things to them. Like we're even talking about doing it for our events next year. And so how do you make those successful? You do have a captive audience, I guess, right?

Anthony Giglio: It's true, and I think that I hosted over 500 virtual tastings during the pandemic. I had never done it in my life. I never heard of Zoom until the Pandemic. My wife was like, download Zoom and figure it out, and I did, and I started hosting for all the corporate clients who wanted to keep engaged with their housebound, private network, private clients, like I did for you back in the day.

Rachel Andrews: 500. Wait, were you just drinking every single day?

Anthony Giglio: I was doing two and three a day. It was exactly 75 minutes. I might have had three in a night. There was so much wine, and it was during COVID right? So I would be leaving open bottles. I live in a big apartment house, so I was leaving them outside of the doors of my friend's apartment so that we weren't really socializing at the time. I would just, like, knock and run because I had so much wine open. It was crazy. How do I keep engaged? I talk to people as if we're in the same room, and I ask a lot of questions.

I give a ton of trivia. I keep it really fun. I tell stories. But I like to call on people, and I think testament to a great virtual event is making sure cameras are on. And I think when I can get people to turn on cameras, the clients are really thrilled because they'll say this crowd might not come on, and this and that and I find that unacceptable. Rachel, you were generous enough to send $150 worth of wine to this person's house, even though they're a big client, and it's really the opposite, that you should be grateful for their business. I get it, but you did something really nice. They show up for it, but they keep the camera off.

It kind of defeats the whole thing. And I'm like, Come on. Wait. Who is Rachel Andrews? Can you turn your camera on just for 1 second, just so we could have a quick toast? And I get them to come on, and if they really don't want to, it's like, fine. I don't really harass, but my point is, I get people engaged, I get them excited, and I get them to keep their cameras on. I would say 500 tastings. I can't remember more than a dozen where there were, like, four or five people with the cameras off. I had people on, and people want to stay on.

I think the best testament for me is when people say, oh, do we have to end? Is it over? And then they start DMing me on Instagram and saying, oh, I wish we could have stayed on. I could listen to you forever. It is what it is. I think it's infectious when you get people excited. And I think over and over and over again, if there's like, a thread that I get through a lot of the thank yous. It's I never expected to learn so much and laugh so much. And I think that's my secret sauce is that because I refuse to take this too seriously. I grew up in a blue collar row house with a truck driver dad and a bookkeeper mom.

We weren't allowed to take any of this seriously, and of course, I can be serious about this, but I think the best approach is to say, let's not get too carried away here, people. It's fermented grape juice and let's build from here. And it seems to equalize any group because there's always going to be people who know nothing and maybe are embarrassed or ashamed or just afraid, and then there's always going to be the obnoxious collector, people who want to brag about what they love and blah, blah, blah. I try to make everybody feel yeah.

Rachel Andrews: And that helps engagement, too. I've been to so many high end wineries that if you don't say the right thing, they're like, oh, I just feel like I'm judged. And you shouldn't be judged when you're having a good time with wine and friends. Right?

Anthony Giglio: Yeah, exactly right. That's what it's all about. I joke all the time. Everyone thinks there's a right answer to any wine conversation, and I just joke. If we could just admit that the only wrong answer is white's infidel, we could all build up from there, and we'll be fine. We will be fine.

Rachel Andrews: Well, I guess one more question. I know we didn't really talk too much about your role with writing, but if our listeners want to find you or read something that you've written, or even if they're at an airport right.

Anthony Giglio: At one of the Express Lounges, yeah.

Rachel Andrews: Like, tell us a little bit more of that side of you and your business there.

Anthony Giglio: If you could spell my impossible name, Anthony Gileo. You add A.com and you'll go to my website and there's everything. Well, a lot of what I've written there, or like, a good handful of things, but you can Google me and there's a ton of stuff out there. I joke, Rachel. I'm just old enough where a lot of my writing is pre Internet or bad Internet, like early Internet. So I have so many magazines in boxes in my garage that I need to scan.

Rachel Andrews: If you go on Lexus nexus?

Anthony Giglio: Yes. Or the wayback machine. The Wayback Machine has everything back into the early 90s, but I don't have a lot of stuff on current websites. But I write for food and wine. I've written almost I'd written twelve books on cocktails and wine, all like, a while back, but I continue to write for pleasure. I still write for Food and Wine and a bunch of other small publications when the topic really intrigues me, but my day to day is the speaking, and I love it. I really love it. Like I said, I love to write, but it doesn't pay nearly as much as I can earn for speaking.

Anthony Giglio: And I have two kids in college right now, concurrently, so I'm motivated more to speak than write. But I do a ton of writing still, and I love that as well.

Rachel Andrews: That's great. And so for the airport lounges, are you selecting all the wines on behalf of them?

Anthony Giglio: Yeah, we have 18 lounges in the US. And three abroad, and so I work with different teams in different regional areas. But, yeah, we have between twelve and 18 bottles in most lounges, and I switch them out every six months or so and freshen it up. And if you go to the American Express Centurion Lounges, you'll see my name on the menu.

Rachel Andrews: Oh my gosh, so cool. Well, it was a pleasure having you today. I can't believe you got me to drink wine on a school night. On a school morning.

Anthony Giglio: Wait, did you just call it social? Cheers.

Rachel Andrews: Exactly. This has been truly a pleasure. I think I'm going to start drinking on all the podcasts, make them more interesting.

Anthony Giglio: Thanks so much. I'd be happy to recommend wines to drink on your podcast, Rachel.

Rachel Andrews: Amazing. Yes, we'll need to do that. Well, anything else for our listeners before we leave them today? Any final words of wisdom?

Anthony Giglio: Okay, three, takeaways one. First sip never counts. B, you cannot have wine without food, and you cannot judge wine without having tasted food. And three, chill your red wines, please. Chill your red wines. A little bit. They don't have to be ice cold, but just chill them. It will change everything for you.

Anthony Giglio: And for white wine lovers who don't like red wine, why don't you like red wine? Because it's usually served warm. And why, if you drink cold white wine, would you ever switch to warm red wine? You don't have to chill the red and ask for it to be chilled wherever you go.

Rachel Andrews: Amazing. I'm going to go buy a wine fridge now.

Anthony Giglio: I have a great one I can recommend to you.

Rachel Andrews: Amazing. Awesome. Well, Anthony, thank you for joining great events, podcast. It's been a pleasure learning and drinking with you. And to our Rockstar listeners, thanks for tuning in. As always, if you have additional things to share or want to get in touch with Anthony, his information will be on our website. But please send us a note or a DM on LinkedIn or Instagram or at. Greatevents@stevent.com.

Rachel Andrews: You love our show, so don't forget to subscribe and rate our podcast. Thanks and see you next time.

Anthony Giglio: All right, you got your opening. Mine is already open and well depleted from last night, but it's still enough to have a good drink together.

Rachel Andrews: Amazing. Just for all of our podcast listeners, it is not even noon in Denver, and I just opened a bottle of red wine on the podcast.

Anthony Giglio: Rachel, this is my job. So we're doing work, actually. Doing work. This is research.

Rachel Andrews: We're doing research.

Anthony Giglio: Yes, we are doing research.

Rachel Andrews: Yes, exactly.