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Why Luxury Hotels Are Uncorking Wine Clubs

Tickers in this article: MAR TWE

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- Gathered for the conversation were sommeliers from Four Seasons properties throughout Europe.

Wine experts from the retail industry, wine bloggers and journalists were also in attendance.

The topic: the attributes of four pre-selected wines.

And while many of the participants in this conversation were present at the Amaranto Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel London, many more were participating via Twitter as part of the Four Seasons' second virtual wine tasting event.

"This is a way of extending the reach of our experts to more people," says Sorya Gaulin, director of corporate PR and social media for Four Seasons. "We are one of the few hotel companies that has very awarded sommeliers, people who are certified wine experts."

The virtual wine tastings are also a way for the Four Seasons to demonstrate what can be done in the virtual world while maintaining very relevant links to the real world and the hotel business, Gaulin says.

But more importantly, the Twitter tastings are just one way luxury hotels are using wine these days to reach out and engage guests.

The Four Seasons, something of a trailblazer in the virtual world, has also launched a "Sommelier on Demand" program on its Facebook page designed to shine light on Four Seasons' wine talent and give the audience a chance to engage with their experts directly. One week each month a different Four Seasons sommelier answers questions about wine pairing, with conversations going something like this:

"Lobster poached in butter. Would like to add wine to the butter -- what should I use? And what wine should I serve with the meal?"

The response from a renowned sommelier is posted within minutes: "Butter's the key factor here for both flavor and mouthfeel, and Chardonnay is the answer to both questions."