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The Short Version: Fred Dex is a Master Sommelier who wants to demystify wine culture. He hosts virtual wine tastings where he selects three wines and discusses their background, flavors, storage, and food pairings. Many couples on at-home dates show up with wine glasses ready to toast a fun evening. Couples can take this opportunity to engage in a friendly conversation with Fred and get answers to their wine questions.
Fred Dex has worked in the food and hospitality industry for over 20 years. As a young man, he gained restaurant experience by waiting on tables and later cooking in the kitchen. Then he stumbled across a book about wines. From that moment on, he was hooked.
That book changed the course of his life. Today, Fred has developed more than 30 wine and beverage programs for restaurants and hosted hundreds of private wine tasting events.
In 2007, he achieved Master Sommelier status — the highest accreditation in the beverage industry. The rigorous process tests a person’s taste buds and wine knowledge. Fred is among an elite group of wine experts. Only 269 people in the world have earned the title of Master Sommelier.
Despite his impressive and sophisticated background, Fred isn’t a wine snob. He told us he’s passionate about making wine more accessible to the average person.
Fred acknowledged that some wine tastings can be intimidating or expensive, but he aims to go the other way and help people have fun with it.
Fred started offering virtual wine tastings where he explained the nuances of wine and entertained couples on dates. No previous wine experience or knowledge is needed to enjoy these tasting events. It’s not going to break a couple’s monthly budget either. Fred makes an effort to select affordable yet high-quality wines.
“Most of the wines I drink with these couples are under $20. You could have a glass of wine every day with dinner,” he said.
Some couples choose to participate in a virtual wine tasting with friends. Fred typically hosts groups of eight to 15 people. Sometimes he’ll host a private session for couples celebrating a special date night or occasion. Anniversary tastings have proven particularly popular.
“Date night isn’t just about two people getting together,” Fred told us. “People who are married want to join the fun too.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples changed their routine on date nights and began staying home. Instead of attending public events, they found online entertainment and virtual events to keep themselves occupied. That’s where Fred Dex came in.
Fred wanted to change the way people view wine tastings. He steers clear of dry lectures and aims to engage participants in a conversation about wine. He said he likes his couples to participate in “armchair travel,” meaning he uses the Zoom background tools to immerse people in different wine regions. That way, participants can see the area where the wines they’re sampling are produced. Fred displays photos, maps, and other materials that make the wines come alive.
“I try to take people to Spain, France, Austria, and Italy — bring them in with a Google Map to the country, go to the vineyard, and bounce around in these backgrounds,” Fred told us.
Fred also displays flavor backgrounds to help wine tasters know what to look for in their samples. Fred said he’s gotten a lot of questions about what it means when a wine has notes of peach, apple, cherry, chocolate, or some other flavor, and he wants to clarify these terms.
“What are these people talking about? What are these words on the back of the label? I teach them with visuals and by playing games with them. I make it more interactive,” said Fred.
Fred’s virtual wine tastings offer a sampling of three wines that have been chosen because they are delicious, interesting, and connected in some way. Typically there will be one red, one white, and one sparkling option. The master sommelier describes the relationship the wines have to each other and what makes them unique. His explanations help participants understand what they’re drinking.
The event lasts about 90 minutes. Participants are expected to show up with their three wines ready to uncork. Unlike a typical tasting, attendees have three bottles to open and enjoy together, so they aren’t limited to just one glass each.
Couples should be prepared for a unique experience at Fred’s Virtual Wine Tasting events. Not only will they learn about wines and flavors, but also about how to preserve, store, and serve wine.
Food pairings are another important part of the event. Fred offers suggestions for meals, appetizers, and desserts that can enhance the flavor of the wine — and make for a well-rounded dinner date.
“For example, Sauvignon Blanc has bright citrus and green flavors. When pairing food with Sauvignon Blanc, I see green or citric flavors or a crisp vinaigrette,” Fred explained. “Another home run pairing is when you are using cream sauces; these pair well with a buttery Chardonnay.”
Many participants say they appreciate Fred’s knack for storytelling. They often want to know about his experiences working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in the United States. His knowledge goes beyond just wine. Fred has also pioneered a craft cocktail program and developed over 200 original cocktail recipes for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.
“Fred is a phenomenally fun Sommelier. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable, he is very entertaining as well,” wrote Kristy in a review of the virtual tastings. “He makes the experience very memorable and enjoyable for each participant.”
Over the years, Virtual Wine Tasting event participants have shared their positive experiences in testimonials.
“Although I consider myself knowledgeable, I learned more about wines and food pairings in 90 minutes than the last 30 years,” a participant named Paul said. “The best part about the Zoom experience was that Fred kept the party rolling with his quips and tips while exposing us to affordable wines that everyone can enjoy!”
Fred said he prefers working with small groups and couples because he appreciates the back-and-forth aspect of the conversation. Participants ask questions, and he answers them.
“When you get an opportunity to work with less than 10 people, the intimacy is where the magic happens,” he said. “When you work with a couple, there is an intimacy to it. They’re letting you come into their life. It’s a conversation.”
If couples want to learn even more about wine, they can take one of Fred’s courses and enjoy weeks of engaging date nights. The soon-to-be-released Wine Tasting Accelerator offers an eight-week experience learning about wines. It includes guided tastings of 22 grape varieties and live coaching calls with Fred. Participants also have a private Facebook group where they can talk about all things related to wine.
“I took 20 years of experience and turned it into a program,” Fred said. “I get the satisfaction knowing the people will be enlightened. They have permission to enjoy wine in a new way.”
Whether he’s hosting a virtual tasting or a private wine class, Fred tells stories and shares fun facts in an effort to demystify the world of winemaking. He can reach a diverse audience through Zoom and bring high-quality wines to everyday people’s date nights, corporate parties, and social distancing hangouts.
“I’m able to control the background, the story between the three wines, and the conversation. I’ve done a few live events, but I really enjoy the screen behind me, telling stories through imagery,” he said.
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