Many wine tasting rooms, wineries, and vineyards in the U.S. and abroad allow visitors to come and sample their offerings. Although many still believe they must visit Northern California’s Sonoma or Napa Valley regions to find winemakers, viniculture has spread to many parts of the U.S. If you’re planning your first trip to a winery, here are four tips you can use to make the most of your wine-tasting experience.
Drink Outside Your Comfort Zone
Keeping an open mind is the only way you’ll find a new favorite wine. If you’re generally a fan of sweet wines, make an effort to try some of the drier wines as well as sweet ones. If you’re familiar with wines made from very traditional varieties of grapes, try a new grape variety or a wine made from a different fruit altogether. If you’re unused to drinking sparkling wines, give a sparkling white wine a try. These are only a few of the many ways you can expand your wine palette.
Have a Designated Driver
You may or may not actually feel drunk while taking part in a winery tour or wine tasting, but those small sips of wine add up quickly. Designated drivers are better than drunk drivers. Unless you’ve made other preparations beforehand, such as visiting a winery within walking distance of your hotel room, this is the best way to ensure you’ll remember your winery visit for the delightful vintages you tasted, not for the horrible consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. Many wineries offer free snacks and nonalcoholic drinks for designated drivers.
Some smaller wineries are located inside the owner’s’ private homes. Act the way you would when visiting an acquaintance’s home for the first time, putting your best foot forward. Make sure you get permission before recording video or taking photos. Since winery owners and staff are often very personally invested in the wines they produce, keep your remarks to them positive and polite. Don’t forget to thank them.
Prepare to Answer This Question: “What kind of wine do you like?”
Even if you’re a wine newbie, you can get an idea by asking your tour guide for his or her recommendations. Most tour guides will be pleased to offer a few personal recommendations.
The most important thing about trying a winery, tasting room, or vineyard for the first time is to enjoy yourself. Be open-minded about trying different wines and a whole new world will open up for you to explore.