A guide to a successful wine tasting
I’ve encountered quite a bit of the same questions when I tell people I visit wineries and do big wine tastings so I will write down my own tip and tricks, do’s and not do’s for the people that are interested. This is nothing official but something I figured out to work.
- Preparations, before you leave your cozy home
Call or e-mail the winery you would like to visit, some only take guests on pre-arranged times.
Also take in mind that most wineries use the winter months to refurbish and might not take guests during that time. Also take in mind that not everyone speaks they same language as you do, make sure you informed the winery about any language problems if needed, most of them already have some English speaking family or staff around.
Transportation, from your hotel in the village/town is very important. You don’t want to drive and do a wine tasting at the same time so pre-arrange a shuttle or transport with your hotel if it’s possible.. if your hotel does not provide a shuttle or driver then try to look for public transport or a taxi. You can also walk of course if it’s not a big distance.
Do some research on the region and winery you visit, if you like red wines then don’t visit a region that is famous for making sweet and white wines like Tokaj in Hungary. Also check the wine prices in shops if you can, I have met wineries that are almost 15% more expensive than wine shops. You most of the time can pre-pick your wine tasting list and compare it with the shop(s) in the city, don’t feel bad about doing this because at the end the wine maker also sold the wine to that shop.
- Before the visit
Don’t smoke, eat gum, drink very sweet drinks (cola, fanta and the whole range), brush your teeth way before it so the toothpaste taste is gone by the time you taste wine. Some might have problems with drinking coffee and tasting after, I personally don’t. Don’t eat hot food like Indian/Asian just before it either. All of these will interfere with your smell and taste, which you want to avoid on a tasting. Drink water, you will be drinking alcohol so your body will be dehydrated. Also most wineries serve water and free nibbles, usually some dry cookies with tastings.
Dress casual and comfortable, don’t wear a suit unless it’s required and don’t wear cloths you would wear on a beach.
Take cash money with you, not everyone accepts cards. If you would like to buy some wine take some sort of bag with you where you can store bottles in, if you don’t have any of these you can always ask the winery to put your purchase aside and you will pick it up later.
- During the visit and tasting
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the people showing you around the cellar or giving the wine tasting are there to answer them and even expect them if you are at least a little bit interested.
Don’t be afraid to spit out the wines in the spittoon if you don’t like or if you feel you had enough, the wine maker or staff will not be offended.
Try what they offer, even if you don’t like the grape.. you can get surprised how different every wine is.
If you don’t like something then just spit it or drop it into the spittoon, don’t start talking negative about it in front of the staff or wine maker, after all he probably spend a lot of time making this.
Be polite, even if you had a little bit to much if you would like to re-try or taste something different then just ask most of the times you get it for free or at a small sub charge.
- After the tasting
if you like something of the wines, go ahead and buy it ! Do take in mind you have a big chance you will overpay by 5% to 15% on retail prices of shops. Don’t feel bad about buying it in a shop later on.
Take information if you enjoyed your visit and share it with other people, this is free advertisement for them and you do your friends a favor by telling them about great places.
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