The U.S. is home to three of the 13 best wine regions in the world. Wine travelers flock to Paso Robles in California, Texas Hill Country, and Willamette Valley in Oregon for wine tasting events.
A trip to the tasting room is a must for any wine lover. It allows you to sample a wide variety of wines and learn more about them.
Wine tasting sounds intimidating, but everyone can join. If you’re a beginner, read our guide to make the best out of your experience.
Mind Your Clothing
What you wear does not matter when tasting wine, but you will walk a lot during the tour. Consider wearing light and comfortable clothing. Many people show up in simple shirts and jeans.
However, no one is stopping you from dressing up for the occasion. After all, wine tasting is all about the whole experience. Wear comfortable shoes instead of heels to avoid foot pain from standing.
Wine can stain your clothes. Wearing dark colors gives peace of mind, knowing your clothes will have no visible stains if you spill your wine.
Bring a small bag for your belongings but skip the perfume. It can interfere with your experience since you will use your nose to taste the wine.
Determine a Plan and a Budget
Do you want to visit multiple vineyards? If so, check every vineyard location and make a sensible route. Consider the travel time since it will affect your experience as well.
Make sure you have enough time to enjoy each stop. Wine tasting can last between 30 minutes and a few hours. Visit the website or call the winery to learn about the expected time.
Planning also helps avoid overspending. Determine a budget and focus on your experience. Using this tip ensures you can take a bottle or two home.
Call Ahead for Reservations
Some wineries and vineyards accept walk-ins. However, consider calling to make a reservation for each destination. It is more necessary when you are part of a large group.
Doing this ensures the vineyard can accommodate you on your desired date of visit. It’s more vital today as wineries have to adhere to strict health protocols.
Are you planning to bring your kids and pets? Calling ahead helps you discover the rules of each winery. They might not allow non-human adults to visit.
Learn the Proper Technique
Wine tasting involves your sense of sight, smell, and taste. Using all of these allows you to enjoy the entire experience.
Look at Your Wine
When you get your wine, stop to take a look at it. Notice the color and density of your drink. Wines have different tints and hues because of the grape variety.
Afterward, hold your glass against the light to see how clear it is. A clear wine is an indicator of high quality.
Bring your glass toward you and tip it slightly to thin out the wine at the edge. Notice the color on the rim since it can tell you the age and weight of your wine.
Finally, give the glass a swirl. If you are not comfortable, consider putting the glass down on the table and using your fingers to swirl it.
Take note of the “legs” or the trails of wine sliding down. More legs equate to higher alcohol content with a bolder mouthfeel.
Take a Sniff
Swirling also brings the aromas to the surface. It is perfect for the next step—smelling the wine. Bring your nose to the rim and breathe in.
Identify as many notes as you can. Common ones are fruits, flowers, herbs, spices, and oak.
However, check for any unpleasant odors such as vinegar, mildew, or even burnt matches. These are signs of spoiled wine.
Do not feel alarmed when you cannot discern the scents. You will learn as you visit more wineries. Taking a sniff of the wine will prime your taste buds for the next step.
Try a Sip
Here comes the fun part—the wine tasting. Take small sips and pause to feel the wine in your mouth. Swirl around a bit to appreciate various flavor profiles.
Learn how to sip in a way that aerates the wine as it goes into your mouth. Mimicking a chewing motion also activates your olfactory receptors and saliva. All these make for a more intense flavor.
After appreciating the wine, you can now swallow or spit. The latter is common in wine tastings. Those glasses can add up quickly, leaving you intoxicated.
Take Some Breaks
Cleanse your palate between each glass. Take some sips of water and swirl it around your mouth before swallowing. You can also eat some neutral foods, like crackers or bread.
Eating and hydrating is a must when wine tasting. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can get you lightheaded and drunk faster. Tasting rooms often offer food, but it does not hurt to bring some crackers.
Have Fun and Choose Your Favorite
Take it easy and have fun on your wine tour vacation. A professional wine taster will enjoy the ordeal differently, so enjoy it in your way. After all, it’s also the perfect opportunity to bond with your family and friends.
Feel free to ask the local homemaker about wines. They are more than happy to instruct and educate you.
Never forget to choose your favorites and take some bottles to go. Check with your airlines about their alcohol and liquid restrictions. Nothing puts a damper on a trip better than getting into trouble with the TSA.
Learn More About Wine Tasting
Wine tasting is a great and enjoyable experience while allowing you to learn a lot about wines. You will discover what makes the various types of wine and how you can better appreciate them.