Wine tasting is a great activity for couples on a romantic vacation or for friends on a girlfriends’ getaway or even for just a night out at a local restaurant offering wine flights. Most people who go wine tasting aren’t wine snobs. But a little information helps make it more enjoyable.
Mike and Linda, my brother and sister-in-law, often go wine tasting when they travel. It’s been a favorite activity of theirs for years and they really know their way around a tasting room. Me, on the other hand—I haven’t done any wine tasting excursions in years. So when friends suggested a day away to wine country I felt I needed some tips before going.
What is the most common technique for wine tasting? Should I Swirl? Chew? Spit? Do I have to buy anything?
I turned to my older brother for his sage advice. Here is what he shared with me.
The one thing about wine tasting is that there is already a lot written on it. You can find the “official answers” to some of your question at http://winefolly.com/wine-basics-beginners-guide/
So, what I will tell you is what you won’t find in them. We are consumers, we frequently share a bottle a day, hence we avoid the expensive wines. We want something that appeals to our taste and is affordable. A lot of people want wines to go with food. We prefer something that, as I say, goes well both with food and air. For example, a perfect wine for us is one we can sip while the food is barbecuing and then drink with the meal, if there is any left. However, pulling another cork can solve this problem. There are actually a number of wines that appeal to us under $9.00. This clearly puts us out of the connoisseur category. And I do not want to say that drinking is my hobby.
When we are on a trip we are willing to spend a little more on something special, but it really has to be different. But we do not want anything much over $16-$20, unless it is a port or something like that. Some wine tastings are free (hard to find, but out there). Most range from $5 to $30. If you are in a premier wine area, bet on the higher figures. So, if we are going to go wine tasting, I first go to Google and ask which wineries have complimentary wine tastings or coupons that offer free tastings or two-for-one. Some wineries offer rebates of the tasting fee if you buy a certain amount. Usually the list includes links to the winery website so I go to it to see what their prices are. If everything starts higher than I want to pay, I usually pass it up unless wine tasting includes a tour, then I might consider it. When we taste the wine, we want something that “hits” that we can say, “Yes that is definitely worth double the price of what we usually drink.” We never feel obligated to buy, especially if we have paid a tasting fee. We only buy if we really like it. When we do buy, it is usually only one or two bottles, so no is ever impressed with us. But that is all right because the wine was supposed to impress us not the other way around. We did learn one thing though about buying on a trip. When we buy something special, we enjoy it more if we drink it while on the trip because it is part of the romance of the trip. If we wait to drink it at home sometime later, we ask ourselves, “When did we get this?’ or even worse, “Why did we get this?”
Two of the best places to go for super cheap wine tastings are Total Wine and BevMo where weekend tastings cost a dime and a nickel respectively. There is no pressure and you do not feel that you insult the winemaker when you do not purchase. They also have a better price range, at least one that is closer to our price range.
Guest posters: Michael and Linda Harlan
About: We did not do much traveling while the kids were young and while we were working, but now that we are retired we have been taking short trips mostly to explore California and Oregon. I taught Humanities so our main interests are historical sites and museums. We also enjoy visiting wineries not only for the pleasurable tasting experiences by the opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of their setting.
I asked Mike if I should credit his wife, Linda, on the guest post also. His answer – “Both of us is fine. She drinks the wine, too.”