Four Tips for Going Wine Tasting
This post was written by Paige Comrie. Paige is a wine expert, sommelier and photographer! She is involved in many fields, combining what she does best to tell the story of wine and connect good wine with wine lovers. Thanks to her for this article!
There's something special about exploring wine country. The vineyards stretched out before you, the fresh air, and of course, the wines themselves all make for a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The idea of spending an afternoon swirling, sniffing and sipping wine sounds like pure heaven. There's just something about wine that makes it the perfect drink for any occasion.
But before you go out and start sampling wines at every winery you come across, there are a few things you should know. Here are four tips to help make your next wine-tasting experience even better. Cheers!
Tip #1: Dress in Layers - What to Wear Wine Tasting
Don't know what to wear wine tasting? You're not alone! Most people aren't sure what the dress code is for this type of event. But don't worry, I'm here to help!
Most wine regions, especially well-known wine regions such as Napa and Sonoma have large diurnal shifts. This means there’s a big difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures – here in Napa, during the spring and fall months, they can range anywhere from 36 degrees Fahrenheit at night to 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Dress accordingly!
The dress code for wine tasting is “wine country chic”. Think flowy bohemian dresses, big sunhats, lace, and dressy tops and bottoms. Think about what you’d wear on a fashionable vacation. Nice denim is okay, but leave those holey jeans at home! For men, a nice button-down shirt and nice pants are a good staple.
For shoes, think about where you’re going and what kind of tasting experience you’ve booked. Some wineries have luxurious tasting rooms, others offer a deeper look into the agricultural process that wine comes from. If you’re going to be riding an ATV or out in the vineyard, closed-toe shoes and flats are highly recommended!
Tip #2: What to Pack and Bring Wine Tasting
When out wine tasting, you don’t want to stop your day to have to grab something! It can be useful to pack a bag to bring with you. Some things I recommend bringing along for a day out in the vineyards:
- Bottled Water - It’s important to stay hydrated!
- Sunscreen – the sun can get bright if you’re outdoors all day
- Snacks – Cheese and crackers are always a good choice, but fruit and nuts can also be nice accompaniments to wine. More on this later!
- Tide-to-Go Pen – in case you spill wine on yourself
- Wine Wipes - keep those pearly whites glowing, even after sipping red wine all day!
I also recommend bringing along one of Tirrinia’s Wine Carrier bags. These help keep your wine bottles from shifting around in the car and breaking, and also help keep them a steady temperature (as we know… dramatic changes in temperature are horrible for a bottle of wine!)
Also… if you're planning on stopping for a picnic while out wine tasting, it can be a great idea to stash a bottle or two of wine in the carrier bag before heading out! They offer insulated options that keep your white or rose wines cool until you’re ready to sip them.
Tip #3: Use Proper Wine Tasting Techniques
A general rule of thumb for wine-tasting techniques is to use the 5 S’s of Wine: See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, and Savor.
See: Take note of the color of the wine you’re tasting.
Swirl: Give your glass a (gentle) swirl to release the unique aroma compounds which attach themselves to the oxygen in the air. It’s going to really enrich the smelling and tasting experience!
Smell: Consider what you’re smelling in the glass. What does the aroma remind you of? Let the smell take you to a time and experience!
Sip: The aromatics really shine when combined with the heat in your mouth! Let it coat your mouth for about 3-5 seconds for the full experience.
Savor: This is where the balance all comes together. Take notes, and enjoy the experience!
Along those lines… don’t forget that spitting is okay! Most wineries will have a spitoon on the table, or if you don’t see one feel free to ask. Your wine educator will understand that it’s so you can continue enjoying the wines, not that you think they’re bad.
Tip #4: Plan Your Meals & Snacks
When planning a wine-tasting adventure, it's important to remember to eat. Wine can quickly go to your head if you don't have food in your stomach, and you may not be able to fully enjoy the experience.
Planning ahead and packing some snacks or a light meal can help to make sure that you don't get too intoxicated. Finger foods like cheese and crackers are a great option, as they are easy to eat, even on the go in the car between tastings. Some wineries will also allow you to bring in food to have your own picnic, but always check ahead of time as it’s not allowed everywhere!
Alternatively, book a lunch somewhere between your tastings. My ideal wine tasting day is a wine tasting, a nice long lunch, followed by a second wine tasting appointment. Many wine regions are just as well-known for their incredible food as they are their wine!
A third fun option is to book a wine-tasting experience that includes food pairings. These range from small, appetizer-sized bites to full meal options. If you’re unsure whether the food pairings will fill you up enough, be sure to pack snacks, or ask the concierge their opinion.
Now that you know a little bit more about wine tastings, it's time to go out and enjoy one for yourself. Make sure to keep these tips in mind so you can have the best wine-tasting experience possible. And most importantly, don't forget to relax and enjoy your adventure. Cheers!