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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wine Tasting Tip #5 - Questions to Ask

What kinds of questions should you ask the server when out tasting wine? I mean, you don't want to look like a dufus, right?

First off, it's okay to not know a lot about wine. And it's perfectly okay to tell the server this as it gives them a starting point on what to talk about. Some people want to know the percentage of malolactic in the Chardonnay. Others are still trying to figure out the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

What am I smelling in this Zinfandel?
First, no two people will smell exactly the same thing. But figuring out the fruits, savory smells, etc. is part of learning about wine.

What sort of foods go with your Sauvignon Blanc?
In what situations you would use a particular wine is one of the best questions to ask.

Why is Sauvignon Blanc so much cheaper than Cabernet Sauvignon?
A perfectly acceptable question on pricing. There are reasons for the difference in price and the server should know them.

What makes your reserve Cabernet better than the regular (and cheaper) one?
Of course, you should be able to taste the difference and decide for yourself whether it's worth the extra money. This doesn't mean you can't ask their opinion.

What makes your Chardonnay special?
This gives you hints on wine making styles and how you might use the wine. If you ask this in three wineries about their Chardonnay you'll start to get an understanding of the different styles available and this will help you figure out what style you like. You can use this info in a wine shop back home, for instance.

What makes this winery special?
See what they're proud of -- it might be medals won, it might be organic vineyards, or maybe that the owner started in his garage 20 years ago.

Be specific. That is, rather than asking, "What's the best winery?" ask something like, "I'm looking for a place for good Syrah. We're heading north. Can you recommend anyone?"
You might be looking for a particular wine, a price range of wines, or fancy architecture.

Can you recommend a lunch stop? We are looking for something fast, one person in our group is vegetarian, and we're heading to Healdsburg next.
Again, you were specific. Good!