Before you go
- Plan out some stops based on what you want from the trip. A particular kind of wine, a price range for wines, things to see, etc. It's good to know what you're getting into as far as tasting fees, for instance. Look for online tasting coupons.
- If you're visiting coastal California dress in layers because it'll start cool then warm up in the afternoon.
- Have a good breakfast.
- Bring along a styrofoam wine shipper box or an ice chest if the weather will be warm. Or have the winery ship it for you. Keep your precious cargo safe!
- Bring a plastic cup like the red Solo cups (I'll explain later).
- There are phone apps that will guesstimate your sobriety. There are even devices that hook up to your phone that you blow in to get your approximate blood alcohol reading. In fact they're so cheap you could buy hundreds of them for the price of one DUI.
- Go to learn about the winery, about different varietals, about wine in general. Growing grapes and making wine are a lot more complicated than you might think!
- That red Solo cup? You can use it to spit then dump out when you leave. Especially good advice for the driver. Tasting rooms have dump buckets, but I like having my own "spittoon."
- Split tastings between two people, if possible. You can sample more wines during the day if you do this. It's also a lot cheaper.
- Be open-minded to trying new varietals and even some you think you don't like. For instance, many folks "hate" Chardonnay because it's all oaky and buttery, but many aren't made that way any more.
- Ask questions, be curious. There aren't really any stupid questions. Some people don't know Zinfandel isn't pink, some don't know grape vines set fruit and bloom in the spring, grow and ripen in the summer, and are picked in the autumn--just like other fruits. That's okay. Wine tasting is a learning experience even for the so-called experts.
- Take home the wines you fall in love with. Is there a better souvenir?