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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!