It’s California Wine Month, and until we get that law passed that allows people to buy their wine only from Vinesse, we know you’re probably going to stop by a winery (or two or three) when the occasion arises.
September is a great time to visit wine country because harvest has either begun or is about to begin at most of the vineyards, which means there’s excitement in the air (not to mention a lot of bees, who love that sweet fruit hanging on the vines).
To help you get the most out of the touring-and-tasting experience, we offer the following 10 tips…
- Select a designated driver.
D.U.I. laws are so restrictive in many states that even one tasting room visit could put one’s blood alcohol over the legal limit. Reward the designated driver with a bottle (or two or three) to enjoy at home.
- Don’t use cologne, perfume, scented soap or anything else with a strong scent.
You want to be able to savor the aroma of the wine in the glass… and so do the other tasting room visitors.
- Take your time.
The goal is not to see how many wineries you can visit, but to discover two or three special bottles that you’ve never had before.
After swirling a sip of wine in your mouth, it’s perfectly acceptable to spit it out. That’s what the buckets on the tasting bar are for. If you’re self-conscious about spitting, just take very small sips and pour any unused wine into the bucket. You won’t insult the winemaker: he or she doesn’t want you to get drunk, either.
- Some wineries offer complimentary nibbles. Eat them.
Or eat before you hit the road. Food helps to metabolize alcohol.
- Take notes.
Especially if you’re going to be tasting a lot of wines, this will help you remember what you like.
- Ask questions. (And listen to the answers.)
You’ll learn a lot.
- If the winery offers a tour, take it.
You’ll learn about the winemaking process and what makes that winery special.
- Ask if there are any “special bottles” behind the counter.
You just may get to taste something normally reserved for regular customers or fans of the winery.
- Have fun.
This isn’t rocket science. Don’t be so focused on being a “wine geek” that you don’t get as much enjoyment out of the experience as you could… or should.