I will be making a visit to the California wine country soon and I thought I should share some tips with you regarding tasting tours. Though my trip will be focusing on finding some new gems for everyone, many of the same tips will apply.
Organize Your Visit
Select both large and small wineries to visit. This will give a perspective of what’s out there. Plan on selecting three to five winery’s per day. Two in the morning, one at lunch and two in the afternoon, this will allow you plenty of time to sip and talk.
Designate or Hire a Driver
If you’ve ever seen the Napa Train leave Napa loaded with fresh smiling faces and then return with loaded faces, you understand.
Drive a Comfy Car
Nothing better for a nap in the parking lot before the next tasting.
Take a Cooler
With a picnic lunch or some snacks, wine goes best with food. Or, stop along the way at some the local places. Many have some excellent sandwiches. When you find some exceptional wines and you want to take one back for diner, you’ll have a place to keep it cool while you continue you tour. If you want more, have the winery ship it to you home.
Forget The Frangrances!
Please, please, please don’t wear perfume or cologne: They all interfere with the aroma of wine and this is a key factor in enjoying good wines.
Wear Dark Clothing
There’s nothing worse in looking like you where blasted with a paintball.
By going early, you’ll avoid the crowds. Remember, you have the luxury of being on the east coast and are three hours ahead of the pack (Bummer for the evening cruisers). Midweek is good too.
If your favorite winery is closed to the public, they might allow you to come for a private tasting tour. Be prepared to negotiate a price. Generally, it’s worth the price of admission.
Avoid Tour Buses
If you see one in the parking lot, drive on and come back later. Do you know how many people they can get in a bus these days!
Taste and Savor
Start with dry whites, then reds, then sweets. This can be fun and instructive comparing the wines side by side. Try wines you’ve never tasted before: Widen your range, surprise yourself. Ask the staff what the vintner is best known for.
Don't Fret Over Spitting
It’s something that is perfectly acceptable to do. It may not be pretty but it’s okay to do it. Practice in the privacy or your own home so you are not the person designated paintball gunner. Also, it will prevent you from taking exceptionally long naps in the parking lot.
Take a Notebook
If you don’t write them down, you’re going forget. Trust me it happens. Later I’ll give you some tips on what to write down. But for right now, the name is a good start.
Unless there swamped, most of the staff loves to talk about the wine and what foods it pairs with best.
Eat and Drink Water
Be sure to eat a good breakfast and snack along the way. This will help absorb the alcohol. Nibble on bland cracker between tasting, this will help your pallet from becoming overloaded. Avoid eating garlic or spicy foods, wait till after the tasting. Take several bottles of water and sip regularly between tastings.
Hydration is your friend dehydration is not. I recommend drinking water between visits. This way you will not diminish the ability to distinguish the different wines.
Get on The List!
Ask to be on the mailing list: If you like the wines let them know. It’s a great time to express your interest. At small winery’ you’ll become part of the family and be notified when certain events will take place.
Above all….. Have a goodtime and enjoy the adventure. There’s some fantastic times and wines to be had out there!
Enjoy the Wine!
4525 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland