This one contains a few basic items to make your trip more enjoyable.
Watch your intake
Should be obvious, but it's not to everyone. It's wine tasting, not bar hopping. It's okay to spit or pour out part of your taste.
Take the kids?
If they can keep themselves occupied while you're tasting then yes, otherwise probably not a good idea as the tastings won't be very enjoyable for you or them.
|Here's something for the kids to do at a winery :)|
Traveling around with wine purchases
If the interior of your car is hot it can ruin your wine. Use an ice chest or a Styrofoam wine shipping box and keep it out of direct sun. Heat can damage the wine very quickly.
On weekends your best experiences will be before 2 pm. After that many tasting rooms can be pretty crazy meaning service can be slow and you don't get to talk with your hosts much. Maybe head for more out-of-the-way places later in the day.
Bar space is often at a premium
Don't spread out too much at the bar. When I'm out and it's crowded we let the wives stand at the bar and the guys are behind so if there's four of us we're only taking up two spots. It's the polite thing to do for everyone else.
What you last had in your mouth matters
Toothpaste, a burger with onions, Dr. Pepper, a heavy port-style dessert wine -- yeah, these will all negatively affect your wine tasting. Best idea is to have a little plain-tasting bread or crackers with some water (stay hydrated!) between wineries. Chewing gum is a no, flavored lip gloss is a no-no.
Try a seated tasting
You will probably have to make a reservation somewhere, it will probably cost more, but a relaxed, seating tasting is a whole different experience.
|A bit more expensive to do it seated, but a lot more civilized!|
Try unfamiliar things
Look for wineries you've never heard of and try types of wine you've never had. Ever had a Mounts Family Dry Creek Grenache? A big, bold red from Zichichi? You don't know what you're missing.
Try familiar things
If I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "I don't like Chardonnay ... Oh, I like this one." The wines presented at a winery and what's available on the store shelf 2,000 miles away are not always the same! Give their Chard or Merlot a try.
Find out what estate-grown means, have your first Carignane, talk with the people next to you visiting from Denmark, find out why Dry Creek Valley grows great Zinfandel.