Chances are you really don’t. What you mean is that you and your friends or family want to go to wine country (insert specific wine region/area here) and DRINK wine.
Wineries have a sales model that assumes several things.
- You are there to pay a fee to taste/sample the current wine offerings
- Buy a bottle or two of wines you enjoyed
- You enjoyed the experience SO much that you join their club
But what is more probable is that YOU want to take your Mother to said wine country/area for Mother’s Day to imbibe in adult grape juice and are completely unaware of the above assumptions list.
Or you are informed and know this is how it is and decide to go anyway. But when you arrive at the Tasting Room on Mother’s Day you find it is CRAZY BUSY and you choose to nudge your way up to the bar and follow along.
It’s so busy that it takes several minutes before anyone can help you and once they DO get to you they give you the scripted “assumptions list above” at high speed, very loudly.
You spend the next 45 minutes tasting 2 oz samples of wines that you forget which one you are tasting but take a guess at while perusing the Tasting Notes sheet provided.
“I don’t taste freshly cut lawn, do you?”
“No, and I don’t like Whites anyway.”
“WHAT!!??, I can’t hear. . .”
Then you forget about the tasting fee and try to finagle a deal to reduce or remove the fees by buying bottles of wine you don’t remember tasting.
This is one scenario.
The other is you decide to go on a “slow” day with your significant other or BFF and really get into it.
You arrive 10 minutes BEFORE the tasting room opens on Monday (or find out that many tasting rooms are only open 4 days a week, and not MONDAYS) But, having failed to research beforehand, you wait around in the parking lot.
Once inside you are in luck because you are the first customers of the day and the Tasting Room attendant is feeling restful and exuberant. They go over the “Assumptions List Above” clearly and you choose to go for it.
You spend the next hour and a half breaking down the minute details of each 2oz pour of 6 wines, including the white and rose’. The information overload and pretentious tasting notes scare you into paying the fees and leaving in a daze of confusion and fear.
Lunch at a beer brewery saves the day.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
What you didn’t know hurt. Let’s go back to Mother’s Day. What you should have done is either head to a wine bar in the same area or instead of attempting the “Assumptions List Above” routine, you can ask for glass pours or buy a bottle and chill out on a porch (if available) just do a little Googling about places before you leave.
Read up on the winery and their Tasting Room policies anyway. Know a bit in advance what to expect and what you might be tasting/drinking/buying.
If you choose the mid-day route, take control of the experience if it starts to become overwhelming by being honest with the attendant and tell them it’s overwhelming. A good Tasting Room hires solid staff. Most of which are knowledgeable and care about the wine and you.
Here are a couple of tricks that help with the tasting experience.
- Don’t look at the tasting notes. Try and use your own sensory tools first, Smell the wine deeply. Try and discern just what you smell. IMPORTANT: THERE IS NO WRONG ANSWER. If you smell pencil shavings or don’t smell freshly cut lawn or cat pee, BIG DEAL. This is your sensory time, really consider what you are smelling.
- Taste each wine in order. Your pallet will thank you. Don’t skip the wines you think you don’t like. This is your opportunity to try the stuff you tend to avoid. The human pallet changes as you age. You might find you actually like this particular Chardonnay.
- Break up each wine with a drink of water and if there are crackers available, eat one. It resets the pallet.
- Do not visit more than 2 or 3 wineries in a day. Your worn-out pallet will stop giving you correct information after the second winery and, while you might enjoy that 3rd or 4th place, you will get home and find you bought a couple bottles of wine you don’t even remember tasting. That’s an expensive mistake. (Hint: Eat lunch after the second visit and then re-evaluate)
Also, remember that wine sold at wineries and tasting rooms is brand new. White, Rose’, sparkling, and dessert wines are ready to consume the day they are released. But Red wines require holding so they mature in a couple of years. They are just not ready to drink yet. That is the nature of Red wines. (a topic for another day)
That’s all for now. Hopefully these hints and instructions help make the most out of what can be a very trying and expensive and disappointing day. It should be fun. If it isn’t, re-read the instructions.
Mitch R Cook