Whether you are an experienced wine enthusiast or someone who picks your wine by how pretty the bottle is, visiting wineries and participating in tastings can be a fun way to spend time with friends or loved ones. They are an opportunity to expand your horizons and learn new things. When you are planning your winery visits, there are some tips that can make it a better experience for you and for those around you.
Have a designated driver
First and foremost, know that even little tastes can add up quickly. If you are visiting an area with multiple wineries, the drive can sometimes be long and winding. It is best to either designate one of your party to drive or hire a driver. Many areas have tourism groups who will do group tours to a predetermined list of wineries in the area.
Visit a few, but not all
If you are visiting an area that has a lot of wineries in one area (some have as many as 30 or more), it is important to select 3-4 to visit. You do not want to rush your visits and more than 4 can be difficult to manage.
One of the best things about visiting a winery is talking with the staff. They are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their craft. Going earlier in the day will generally mean fewer crowds and the ability to talk with the person serving you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you don’t know much about wine.
Speaking of knowledgeable staff
Pay attention to what they tell you. When you arrive, they might ask you what kinds of wines you like. Whether you are a wine novice or wine connoisseur, consider answering vaguely. The staff will be able to suggest a tasting order and wines that the winery does well that you will want to try. Additionally, if you are visiting a winery that has more specific regional wines, you want to stay open to trying new things.
Purchasing what you have tried
Odds are that you will like at least one thing that you tried. It is polite to purchase something as long as you like it, but you also don’t want to feel pressured into buying everything. You will find your own comfort level. Bring a box with you – you can pick up a wine box at your local liquor store before you go. If you are traveling from a distance, especially by plane, you may want to consider purchasing a Styrofoam cooler to keep your bottles safe. Either way, be wary of leaving your purchased bottles in a hot car. The heat will cook your wine, changing the excellent taste you enjoyed.
Don’t forget your water and your lunch
Making sure that you eat and hydrate well will help you enjoy your experience and handle the wine you will consume. Remember, the winery’s tasting rooms are busy places and you want to be respectful of the staff and the other guests. If you want to break for lunch, consider planning your trip around a winery that offers a full menu or pack a picnic lunch to have on the grounds. Also remember that if you plan to drink some wine during lunch, you will want to have wine from the winery – it is not only disrespectful, but often illegal, to drink another winery’s wine on the grounds.