One of my first experiences wine tasting was when my Mom and Dad took us to Chateau St. Michelle 30 years ago. Was I ever surprises to see how massive an operation it was and I can remember how impressed I was with all the stainless steel, hoses, and barrels all glistening and pretty. It made a big impression on me thinking this is a French chateau right in my back yard!
Over the years I have visited many wine regions including the Willamette, Yakima, Columbia, Napa, Sonoma Valleys. I get giddy just thinking about meeting new wines and winemakers. I prefer tasting rooms located right at the vineyards and wineries. You never know when you will connect with someone who is willing to give you a grand tour of the property, or my favorite, the cellar and wine cave.
Here are some do’s and don’t that will make your experience the best it can be.
Do: research the region online so you can eliminate wineries that focus on wines you aren’t interested in.
Don’t: don’t skip smaller lesser known wineries.You may find a jewel and avoid the crowds. Do: Pick 3 or 4 wineries per day it visit so you can enjoy the experience and engage the staff
with questions. You will learn a lot.
Don’t: don’t act like you know a lot about wine even if you do. Wine people will notice your interest and you may find yourself tasting from barrels.
Do: buy the wines you like.
Don’t: don’t buy the wines you don’t like, but be polite about it. Some of my friends will buy a
‘sympathy’ bottle just because they had a good time and want to support people who are trying.
Do: drink plenty of water before and after to hydrate before you head out. Wine headaches are often a result of dehydration, not from sulfites or red vs white wine.
Don’t: drink too much. If you like reds just taste the reds skip the others. Wine tasting is not a way to get free wine, it a venture of discovery.
Do: be confidant about your palette. There is always someone who can taste ‘road tar’ in the wine. Who cares? Swirl, smell, taste and enjoy.
Don’t: don’t apologize about your lack of knowledge. Good tasters listen and learn.