May is Wine Month. With the current social distancing climate and businesses like wineries being by appointment only or closed completely, you’ll have to get creative to enjoy a glass of wine if you’ll be among others.

Go virtual.

Many Michigan wineries who are accustomed to hosting wine dinners at their vineyards have switched gears and are hosting virtual dinners with wine pairings. All you need to do is get the ingredients and follow along with the host; there usually isn’t a fee to attend. You’ll get a spectacular dinner that’s complemented by an exceptional wine. It may make the perfect date night or girls’ night!

Host a wine party in the backyard.

As long as everyone can stay apart six feet and bring their own bottles of vino, you can host an outdoor party. Make it an occasion by stringing up lights, putting out chairs (or ask your guests to bring their own), and having the music keyed up. Arrange the chairs – and some small side tables – in a circle, being respectful of distance, so that everyone can converse easily.

Hone your skills.

If you are a wine connoisseur and want to learn more, now might be the perfect time to make if official. Join an online sommelier class to learn from certified master sommelier experts. Build confidence in your wine tasting skills, learn to pick out ingredients, and have fun!

Make an appointment to stop in.

Wineries are reopening for business, although many are by appointment only so that they can manage capacity. So, make an appointment! Just keep your group to fewer than six people and stay outdoors are much as possible.

Taste test at home.

If you called up a winery or a wine shop, they’d probably be more than willing to make recommendations as to which wines to taste and in which order they should be tasted. They may even have some snack ideas to pair along with the wines. You’d have to buy a few bottles of wine, but if you invite another couple or two, you can all chip in and the wine won’t go to waste – even if that means sending people home with a bottle or two.

Meet up at the beach.

Sun and sand – is there a better place to social distance with friends? White and red wines, as well as wine spritzers, come in convenient four-packs of small bottles that are easily portable and drinkable. There are hundreds of beaches in Michigan. Just bring a Frisbee and a stereo. If you take glass to the beach, remember to take the empty bottles with you when you leave. Many parks have recycling available next to trash cans and dumpsters. Otherwise, bring the bottles home. Nobody wants to step on broken glass.

Game night or trivia night – online.

You don’t need to drink alone. Coordinate with friends and family an online game night or trivia night. You can play a game everyone already owns, or go the extra mile and directly ship a particular game to each home in advance of a game night. Trivia can be a lot of fun, too, and participants can take turns asking questions and keeping score. And of course, everyone brings wine.

Go on a photo tour.

Being outside comes with a lot of benefits. Even though you may not be able to step inside each winery, that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Go on a drive and snap photos outside each building or vineyard, maybe a view from the front porch as many wineries are situated on idyllic spots.  Share these photos on social media by tagging the winery. (Maybe pick up a curbside order while you’re there to enjoy back at home, hint, hint.)

A crisp white or a peppery red is better shared with other people. We are a communal society, and we thrive when we are around others. When life gets back to normal and we don’t need to be as apprehensive about social gatherings and social activities, you can disregard the social distancing measures and simply enjoy a glass of vino the way we’re all used to. Until then, make sure to support wineries across the state if you can’t go inside the tasting rooms, whether it’s by purchasing their bottles in the grocery store, an online order, or curbside pickup. Michigan has some of the best wine in the nation!