Wine tasting has become a popular weekend pastime across the nation, and for good reason. Not only does wine tasting give you a chance to explore your likes and dislikes but it also functions as a great brain exercise.
If you’re a first-time wine taster, you might find the entire experience to be intimidating. Will you know what you’re tasting? Will you show up wearing the right clothing?
Fortunately, both in-person and virtual wine tastings are led by experts who are happy to help. Still, this may not do much to reassure you in the meantime. Is there any way that you can start prepping in advance?
There sure is. Read on for our tips that will make your early wine tasting experience a positive one.
Plan Your Itinerary
If you only plan to hit up a single winery, this step isn’t as important. All you’ll need to do is make sure that you know the hours of operation and how to get there.
If, however, you intend to make several steps over the course of a day or two, you’ll want to come up with a more thorough itinerary. Which one will you go to first? How long will you stay at each winery and what is the route from one to the next?
By planning your itinerary, you avoid having to think on your feet and stressing over what the next step should be.
Select a Designated Driver
People often make the mistake of assuming that they won’t consume much alcohol during a wine tasting. Yes, you can spit out the wine that you try. However, many people end up ordering a full glass of their favorite selection or downing the entire tasting flight.
Select a designated driver to ensure that the trip goes smoothly. If no one in your group wants to sit out the wine drinking, you can always hire a driver. Learn more here about wine tour transportation options.
Make Reservations When Possible
Sure, many wineries do allow walk-in groups to come in and enjoy some wine. However, you will want to look into each winery’s reservation policies. Some only offer a small space for intimate gatherings, and it’s important to find out if they can accommodate your group.
Making a reservation in advance is also a great way to snag a wine aficionado to lead your group. Otherwise, you may be on your own, which can still be a ton of fun–but you may not learn as much about what you’re tasting.
Spitting is not a requirement of wine tastings, but it does have its merits. By spitting the wine out, you avoid intoxication. When you’re really trying to learn more about wine, staying sober is a good idea, as it allows you to keep your mind and tastebuds sharp.
That said, spitting wine into a spitoon or bucket can seem like a clumsy and awkward practice if you’ve never done it before. Practicing ahead of time can give you more confidence (and better aim). Try to purse your lips and spit the wine out in a quick, strong stream that won’t spray or splash others.
Wear the Right Clothing
Wine tastings are often perceived as high-end or fancy affairs. The truth is you’re going to see all sorts of outfits at a winery, ranging from cocktail attire to the most casual jeans and t-shirts. When we say wear the right clothing, all we really mean is that you should dress for your comfort, no matter what that means to you.
If you’re worried about spills or stains, consider wearing dark shades that will do a better job to hide any stray wine. When picking your footwear, keep in mind that many wineries are built on hilltops and you may be walking across cobblestone or gravel. If you plan to take a tour of the grounds, wear shoes that are fit for walking.
Ditch the Scents
As you may know, your sense of smell is tied closely to your sense of taste. We’ll discuss in a moment how to engage both of those senses during a wine tasting, but first, let’s talk about what to avoid.
As you get ready for your day of wine tasting, avoid the scents you might normally don. That means perfumes, colognes, and even strongly scented lotions or soaps. You don’t want anything to distract your nose from the glass of wine in front of you.
Learn About the Three Senses That Help a Wine Tasting
If you do book a tasting with an aficionado, all of this will be explained in greater detail. In the event that you’re participating in a self-guided tasting, we’ll talk briefly about the three senses that help with a wine tasting.
When you’re handed a glass of wine, the first thing you want to do is look at it. What is the color and density of your wine? When you hold it up to the light, is it clear or murky?
Next, you want to take a big whiff of the wine you’re about to taste. What types of fruity aromas, like citrus or plums, are you getting? What kinds of underlying scents, like earthiness or leather, are you getting?
Now, it’s time to give the wine a taste. Roll the wine around on your tongue to really activate your tastebuds. Once again, try to focus on the fruity notes first and any accompanying notes second.
Don’t Overthink Your Next Wine Tasting
Wine tasting is a great way to learn about what you like while activating your senses and your brain. Even when you’re new to wine tasting, you’re bound to learn something exciting–as long as you don’t let your nerves get in the way.
Do you want to travel the country in search of the best wineries? Take a look at our travel section for tips on how to plan budget-friendly and memorable trips.