Tips for a Successful Wine Tasting Trip

Wine Tasting at De Ponte Cellars in Dayton, Oregon - This lovely winery is in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley | platingsandpairings.com

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I like to go wine tasting… a LOT. We head out to the Willamette Valley at least once a month to do some tastings. We’ve also been to Walla Walla, Eugene, Spain; and most recently, Carmel, CA.

From what to wear, to whether spitting is necessary - An expert gives her tips for a successful wine tasting trip | platingsandpairings.com

Wine Tasting at De Ponte Cellars in Dayton, Oregon - This lovely winery is in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley | platingsandpairings.com

I’d like to consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to making ones way around a tasting room. But, I know that it can be intimidating if you’ve never been. Here are some of my tips for making your wine tasting trip a successful one:

Head out early, especially on weekends. Most tasting rooms open around 10am and close at 5pm. Plan plenty of time so that you can visit with the winemaker or tasting room staff, they’ll be less busy in the morning. You’ll also need to accommodate time for travel between the wineries. Also, I prefer Sundays to Saturdays as the crowds tend to be much smaller.

Wine Tasting at De Ponte Cellars in Dayton, Oregon - This lovely winery is in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley | platingsandpairings.com

Ask for tips. My favorite way to discover new wineries is by asking those working at other wineries what their favorite places are. I’ve discovered some real hidden gems this way!

Grab an empty box for wine. No one wants a bunch of bottles clattering around in the trunk. Check with your local wine store and ask if they have any empty boxes. Also, if it’s hot outside, it’s a great idea to bring along some ice packs as well. A hot car will ruin your wines in no time flat!

Wine Tasting Tips - What I pack for a day of wine tasting | platingsandpairings.com

Dress appropriately. Avoid high heels, or go with wedges. It’s likely that you’ll be walking through grass and you want to be sure to have the proper footwear. Wear dark colors – Just in case…  And, I prefer to pack along a crossbody bag, leaving the hands free. Leave the lipstick at home – It’s a nightmare to get off glasses. Instead, chose a lip stain. I’m loving this one. No perfume either – It makes it impossible to get a sense of a wine’s aroma.

Wine Tasting at De Ponte Cellars in Dayton, Oregon - This lovely winery is in the heart of Oregon's Willamette Valley | platingsandpairings.com

Don’t worry about a babysitter. Lots of wineries have open spaces for kids to play, and many have activities like bocce ball, horseshoes or Frisbee golf. Just be sure to bring along some kid-friendly beverages and snacks.
Dundee, Oregon Wine Tasting | platingsandpairings.com

If you don’t like it – Dump it. There are dump buckets there for a reason. Some may call them spit buckets, but I rarely see anyone spit. Rather, if a wine just doesn’t suit your tastes, feel free to dump the remaining wine into the bucket. Everyone has their own personal tastes in wine. That’s what makes it interesting.

Share. If you’re planning on tasting at several locations, don’t be timid about splitting a tasting with your significant other. You’ll still get to taste everything, but you won’t drink so much that palate fatigue sets in.

Dundee Wine Tasting - Winter 2016 -4

Don’t forget to eat and drink liquids. I like to pack along some almonds and Naked Cold Pressed Juice to enjoy between stops. The experts at Naked have launched a new line of cold-pressed juices called Naked Pressed, rolling out in select stores on the West Coast now, and coming soon nationwide.

Wine Tasting Tips - What I pack for a day of wine tasting | platingsandpairings.com

Also, think about packing a picnic. Many wineries welcome outside food, just be sure to check with them first.

Buy a bottle. If you’re visiting a boutique winery, chances are, you won’t be able to find the majority of their wines in stores. Be sure to pick up a bottle while you’re visiting. It helps to support the smaller winemakers too.

Bring along a metallic writer to jot down whose bottle is whose. That way, there’s no confusion after the day is done.

Wine Tasting Tips - What I pack for a day of wine tasting | platingsandpairings.com

Most importantly – Have fun! It won’t be hard to do. You’ll be in a beautiful location, with amazing wine, and fun friends. It really doesn’t get much better!!!

 

 

16 comments

  1. Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama

    These tips are spot-on! I don’t go wine tasting as often as I’d like these days but probably will go in a few weekends for a rare girlfriends getaway. I’ll be using these recommendations – thanks!!!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I hope you’re able to make it tasting soon Catherine – It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I’m sure you’re due for a mommy break!

      Reply

  2. Marlynn @ UrbanBlissLife

    I agree with all of these tips! I’ve finally, after several years of regular wine tasting and wine event participation, have gotten used to using the spit buckets. I think more people actually spit out wine at events versus in tasting rooms, where more people tend to simply dump out wine, but it definitely makes sense when visiting more than one winery in a day or tasting several wines. Those wine writers are the best!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I agree that spit buckets are definitely used Marlynn, but, for the beginner, who might be a bit intimidated by them, I think it’s totally OK to just dump rather than spit 🙂

      Reply

  3. Kelley

    Great tips! I haven’t been tasting in years, but I hope that will be changing very soon. Good call on the lipstick, too. I’m the one who always forgets not to put on lipgloss before a hair cut.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Ha! Haircuts and lipgloss do not mix, huh Kelley? I hope you’re able to make it out tasting soon!

      Reply

  4. Jenni

    Wonderful tips. I do several of these… I love to bring snacks and water to eat between tastings while sitting out enjoying the winery. I am also a big fan of sharing!

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I just recently learned that sharing is really the way to go if you’re going to be doing a lot of tastings in a day! I want to taste everything – And this helps with that a bit 😉

      Reply

  5. Renee Butcher

    You always have the best tips, Erin! I’m still a relative novice to wine tastings, but I’m getting that hang of it. Unfortunately, due to a somewhat traumatic childhood that involved a horrible boy up the street who was a habitual spitter (among other things) I just cannot bring myself to spit. Ever. I know that the two situations are as different as salted caramel and auto parts, but still. Anyway, I will always be a pourer/dumper/whatever.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Ha! You crack me up Renee! Salted Caramel and Auto Parts… 🙂 I’m with you on the dumping, still can’t bring myself to spit. Plus, the noise skeeves me out a bit.

      Reply

  6. Baxter Abel

    I really appreciate your tip to take a box with you when you go on a wine tasting tour! I’ve gone on similar tours and we were so uncomfortable with all of the loose products we bought. I will definitely be taking a box the next time I go on a wine tasting tour.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      Glad I could help Baxter – Have fun wine tasting!!!

      Reply

  7. Zachary Tomlinson

    I like your tip to leave early for wine tasting. To me, wine tasting is one of the sweetest dates you could ever go on. I think that having a good time is so much more important than finding a new wine that inspires you or anything like that.

    Reply

  8. thewineitems

    Such a wonderful tips about wine tasting thanks for sharing

    Reply

  9. Chris Winters

    I like the idea to head out early when going on a wine tour. My wife and I want to have a peaceful and relaxing vacation. I definitely think that we should consider seeing if any of the local vineyards offer any tours.

    Reply

    1. Erin

      I love to start the day early when wine tasting Chris – Wine in your glass at 10am is always a good thing, right? 😉

      Reply

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