Looking for fun things to add to a travel itinerary? Attending wine tastings around the world have become a popular item. Have you considered adding a wine tasting while traveling? In this article we hope to make you feel comfortable and know what to expect especially if it is your first time wine tasting.
Sherrie’s take on wine tasting:
Duly noted my husband Kevin is more knowledgably about wine then myself. Nevertheless, this does not make wine tasting any less of a great experience for me. I thoroughly appreciate the cultural, historic and flavors that a winery provides. I love being able to uncover the different flavors and influences that make a great tasting wine. Wineries can also reveal history of the area that you may not hear in a typical tour.
Wine tasting while traveling is a fun item you can add to your itinerary. There are vineyards in places you would not expect such as; Hawaii, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Tahiti, India, Peru to name just a few. Each region, winery and vineyard can be so different and unique. We have done wine tastings in caves, outside on picnic benches, standing at a bar, on a front porch, formal dining rooms and at our home. They can be private, with friends and with groups. Our trip to Sonoma and Napa Valley with friends can be read here.
- Research if there are wineries offering wine tastings where you plan to travel
- A Google search and Trip Advisor will help with informative blogs, reviews and local information sites
- There may be day tours available that you might like to join that include a visit to a winery for a wine tasting
- Make an appointment for your tasting ahead of time. Wineries everywhere fill up, especially at certain times like harvest season.
- Confirm the price per a person.
- Confirm the length of time you will need to plan
- Become a little familiar with wine terminology so you follow along with the discussion.
- Tasting terminology
- Viticulture terminology
- Different vintages
- Read Kevin’s notes below
- Do not wear any perfumes or colognes. The scents actually can ruin the flavors and you don’t want that to happen.
- The most important advice about going to your first wine tasting- no question is silly to ask. Keep in mind, the more you learn about the wine you are tasting the more you will appreciate and understand the flavors and process.
- The only question that is bad etiquette- “Can you pour us the good stuff?” Please don’t! But you can ask if they have a reserve open for you to taste.
- Let the pourers be the expert. Unless, you are a sommelier or own your vineyard they probably know more than you.
- Many tastings will include nuts, cheeses and chocolates, make sure you experience these pairings with the selected wine, it really does make the combination memorable. Plus they are usually delicious!
- A tip is appreciated as with any service, so feel free to show your appreciation.
- Relax and have fun!
I am no expert wine taster, but I do enjoy a glass from time to time and I love to collect wines in my wine cellar. I have been sampling or tasting wines for the past 25 years or so and over that time my tastes have changed. Early on I preferred sweeter wines and over the years have developed for deeper richer wines. Whether you like it sweet or dry don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Attending wine tastings while traveling is a great educational advantage to step up your knowledge.
There are several types of tastings, formal, casual (my preference) horizontal or vertical. The formal tastings are fun but can be stuffy and usually feature a specific type of wine or a specific region. These tastings are usually swirl – sniff – slurp – spit. The casual ones tend to be more relaxed and we tend to get a wide array of wines from whites to rose’ to reds and tend to be swirl – sniff – slurp – swallow. A Horizontal tasting is tasting the same style of wines from different wineries but all of the same vintage. A vertical tasting is tasting the same style of wine from the same winery but different years.
Spit vs swallow, stop it, the reason for not swallowing during a tasting is that the taste buds get fatigued after a few drinks so you won’t be getting the real taste of the wine after a few swallows. If you are at a tasting with four whites and six reds that would be ten two-ounce pours, that would be about four glasses in about an hour or about three quarters of a bottle. Have a designated driver or have the tasting at home.
I found it best to take notes and come back to the ones that I liked. The first time a friend and I went to Napa we took notes all day of the various wineries that we visited. A group of tasters asked us why weren’t purchasing any wine so we told him for the same reason you don’t buy your kids souvenirs when you walk into Disney – you have to keep up with it all day and you might find something you like better later in the day, you can always go back and buy it later.
Sniff, I close my eyes to concentrate on the aromas. Swirl, this lets the wine open up and releases more aromas, go ahead and close your eyes and sniff again. Slurp, get a little wine in your mouth and slurp some air through it and you should have more aromas and then tastes. Spit, try it, and bring air through your mouth again savor the flavor! Swallow but remember that the more you do this the less you will taste later. That is why we order the best wine for the first bottle at dinner and can regress from there.
Horizontal tastings are fun because you can have several wines from the same vintage or year and see how different wineries interoperate the grape or how the terroir can change the taste. Sherrie and I once sat with a wine maker and he showed us how the wine is affected by different strains of yeast and how to blend with them.
A vertical tasting is to have the same wines from the same winery but different vintages. In this tasting you can see how the weather from year to year can change the wine as well as how the aging process affects the taste. Remember not all wines age well and even those that do have a cutoff point where the taste will start to decline. Most of the newer wines and almost all mass produces wines are not made for cellaring but meant to be drank within a few years.
If you have the opportunity, get to know a sommelier, this isn’t the guy stocking aisles in the liquor store or super market, find someone on line that can help or through social media. Remember, wines are their life, and most are very nice and don’t mind answering a few questions to help out. There are also tasting classes or Sommelier classes, you don’t have to go into the profession but if you have a passion learning more than how to get your buzz on is worth the time. And – like anything else you can do it online! International Sommelier
We hope you consider on your next holiday adding a wine tasting while traveling the world!
Looking for a beautiful hotel and spa in the Sonoma/Napa California area? Check out Kenwood Inn and Spa