Time for a Little Wine Education

“So, it’s like a Tupperware party?”

That was my father’s summation of how I’d described the wine tasting event I’d set up last month as a Father’s Day surprise.

Not exactly, Dad.

I was trying to explain the new Tasting Life program from Monarch Beverage. Maybe I’ll do a better job of it here: Tasting Life is a wine tasting and education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage, Indiana’s largest distributor of beer and wine.

Anyone interested in having a Tasting Life party purchases a six-pack of wine at liquor stores throughout Central Indiana and then schedules a free one-hour wine tasting education experience with a wine expert from Monarch Beverage.

(Disclaimer: The folks at Monarch were generous in supplying the Indiana varietal wine pack for my party. You have to purchase your own wine; the Tasting Life web site has a store locator application to make it easy to find. And our wine expert, Ashley Johnson, let me know that Kroger stores just partnered to begin selling the packs.)

This is where the party varies from a plastic dishware, food product or purse party: there are no sales at any point. It’s strictly a wine tasting and education event.

There are four different wine packs to choose from: an Indiana varietal pack with three red and three white Hoosier wines; a domestic varietal with three reds and three whites; a red varietal; and an international varietal pack. I wanted to also highlight some of the Indiana wineries, and as my family is soon to relocate back home again in Indiana, I chose the Indiana varietal pack.

Our expert showed up a few minutes early to pop open each bottle while explaining how the program works and a little bit about herself, before we launched into the five S’s of wine tasting: sight, swirl, smell, sip and spit (okay, we didn’t do that last one – any wine that was sipped was consumed).

I learned a lot about wine and Hoosier wineries in that hour. Did you know that by the end of the year there will be about 80 wineries here in Indiana? I had no idea there were that many.

I also learned that the Traminette grape is the state grape of Indiana. Didn’t even know we had a state grape.

Here’s one more tidbit: the United States of America recently became the No. 1 wine-consuming nation in the world. Take that, France and Italy!

In the Indiana varietal pack, there are five wineries represented: Rettig Hill in Batesville, Best Winery in Harrison County, Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield and other locations, Turtle Run Winery in Corydon and Butler Winery in Bloomington.

My favorite was the Turtle Run Red My Mind. Sweet and fruity without being too sugary – it went with my steak shish kabobs and fancy cheese selection. And we finished that bottle off before any of the rest of them. But, honestly, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. For a novice wine drinker, I now have some lingo to use and a better understanding of my tastes, along with more knowledge about the Hoosier wine business.

And, my family had a totally unique Father’s Day, complete with wine and fancy cheese.

For more information on the program or to schedule a party, visit www.tastinglife.com.

Monarch Beverage Hits the Open Road for Wellness

Have you ever picked up a mountain bicycle and biked 500 miles a week (Olympic athletes aside, anyway)? Sounds crazy, right?

Not for Miguel Marquez, inventory specialist at Monarch Beverage. He did just that – and in six weeks biked a mind-boggling 2,238.64 miles. In SIX weeks. (I had to emphasize that again!)

Marquez wasn’t alone however. As part of Monarch’s latest workplace wellness initiative, employees that signed up to participate in a biking program biked an astonishing 25,690.87 miles. Their goal was to go around the world in 42 days, and they beat that goal by almost 800 miles. Each individual had a goal of completing 180 miles in six weeks.

Color me impressed.

As company wellness has become a more pressing issue (due to rising health care costs stemming from diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, often caused by inactivity and poor nutrition), organizations are looking for new ways to get their teams up and moving.

Monarch’s employees – some of whom spent over 30 hours a week on their bicycles – were asked to get back on their bicycles and help the company reach the goal of bicycling “around the world,” while also utilizing Indianapolis’ new and updated biking lanes and trails.

Sixty employees initially joined the bicycling program and during the sixth week of the competition Monarch asked the rest of its employees to chip in and help out – over 550 miles were donated by employees not originally participating.

The program was also incentivized: those who submitted at least 30 miles per week were entered into a drawing for an incentive or given prizes. Statistics were e-mailed weekly to keep the motivation going.

Marquez was invited to join a team (employees could bike as individuals or as a team) and his goal was “just to keep up with the first place team and all my coworkers … and go as many miles as possible.” He also shares that he spends time bicycling with his family, but has never bicycled professionally.

Kudos to Monarch employees for their hard work, and to the company for encouraging and supporting its staff to get riding!

What unique wellness initiatives are taking place at your organizations?