In-home tasting offers fun, innovative way to experience different varieties

By Lynne Conner for Chronicle Media

Sky Drysdale, a PRP Wine International Consultant, pours wine samples for Marg & Del Arthur at a recent in-home wine tasting event. (Photo by Lynne Conner/for Chronicle Media)

Choosing wine for a dinner party or casual get-together can be daunting. Staring at rows of bottles in a supermarket or liquor store makes you wonder: Which wine should I pick? Do my guests prefer a dry variety or a sweet wine? What if I buy an expensive brand and no one likes it?

Answering these questions, helping people become confident wine consumers and presenting unique wines in a relaxed setting are what make PRP Wine International innovators in the wine industry.

The company was established in Germany in the 1950s when three families pooled their

resources and names (Pieroth, Romanet and Piccolomini) to form the company. The business relocated to the United States in the 1970s and became PRP Wine International. During the last 30 years, PRP has cultivated a unique business model through consultant-led in-home wine-tasting events.

“The wine industry is fascinating, and learning more about it just enhances your overall knowledge and enjoyment of wine,” said Sky Drysdale, PRP Wine International consultant and former on-air radio personality for Rockford’s WXRX-FM.

He joined PRP two years ago and enthusiastically showcases the company’s wide variety of wines through at-home tasting events.

“PRP Wine International is the largest direct seller of wine in the world,” Drysdale said. “There are 15 offices in the U.S., world headquarters is in Naperville, and a large warehouse in Elk Grove Village. None of the wines we sell can be purchased in any restaurant or liquor store in the United States. All of PRP’s wines come from small boutique wineries, and we source these wines from 13 different countries.”

As a consultant for PRP, Drysdale features the company’s wines through in-home tasting events.

“We find that presenting our global wines to clients in a casual gathering of 10-12 people allows us to address the unique attributes of each vintage,” he said. “Guests can ask questions, try new wines, and most of all have an entertaining and enjoyable time.

“The real focus of an in-home tasting is friends, food and fun,” Drysdale said. “Before the wine tasting, I’ll ask the event host to survey guests on their wine preferences so I can bring samples to match those choices.”

A typical wine tasting lasts around 90 minutes, and guests can sample up to eight wine selections. The host or hostess of the event usually provides foods that complement the wine, like cheese, crackers, fruit, and deli meats. Guests fill out a “scorecard” during the tasting to track which wines they liked best.

“At the end of a wine tasting, we give people the opportunity to purchase what they’ve sampled,” Drysdale said. “By no means is there pressure to purchase wine. I’m a laid-back guy who wants people to enjoy fabulous wine and a good time.”

Since PRP wines are not sold in stores or restaurants, Drysdale said, many people purchase wine at a tasting event to enhance their wine collection or prepare for summer and holiday entertaining.

“Seventy percent of the wines in our program are priced between $25 to $35 per bottle; we have more and less expensive wines as well.”

Drysdale points out that PRP Wine International is not a club or subscription-based program, and orders are solely based on a person’s wine preferences.

“My goal is to be a client’s go-to wine person,” he said. “PRP allows you to order your favorite wine, have it delivered and enjoy great wines from all over the world. Since our wines are so varied, I have some clients who will schedule wine tastings every six months to experience our latest wines. Having new vintages rotate into the program keeps our supply interesting and eclectic.”

Drysdale has also set up PRP Wine International “banner stands” at community events like golf outings, bridal shows and home shows to garner interest for in-home wine tastings.

“For the $69 price of an eight-bottle wine tasting, with up to 12 people, the value of the wine I bring is over $330. The biggest perk of PRP wine tasting is learning about outstanding wines with your friends, enjoying food and having fun.”

For more information on PRP Wine International or to schedule a wine tasting, contact Drysdale at