If you enjoy a good glass of wine, you probably have at least one or two favorites. Wine tasting is an adventure that will delight your palate and broaden your experience by introducing you to new varieties and flavors. A visit to Oregon wine country is a great way to learn more about the many amazing wineries in the state. But, before you schedule a wine tasting tour, there are a few wine tasting tips that you need to know.
Preparing For Your Wine Tour
With a little advanced planning, your wine tasting will be an experience to remember. The first thing you will want to do is make a thorough plan of your trip. Consider the following:
Why do you want to take a tour? Is it for romantic reasons, recreational reasons or both?
Will you tour one winery or more than one? Are you touring locally or will you need to travel to your destination?
Each of these points deserves careful consideration. If you’re planning a tour by yourself, you need only to know the hours of operation of the wineries, and when you would like to go.
If, however, you are planning the tour for romantic reasons, you will want to schedule your tour at a time when the winery won’t be too crowded – such as during the week or in the morning hours. Or, for something truly special, you might consider scheduling a private tour. Private tours are offered by many wineries. Some wineries have a more romantic setting than others, and some offer romance packages while others don’t.
If you are planning to tour more than one winery, you will need to consider the amount of time you will spend at each winery and where each winery is located. In some regions, you will find several wineries close together, while in other regions they are much farther apart.
If your wine tasting adventure will take you beyond your local area of residence, you will also need to plan how far you would like to travel and where you will stay. This will depend upon your budget and the amount of time you have available. There are wineries that offer tours all across the United States and abroad – each with it’s own unique experience and ambiance to offer.
A few final things for your consideration before embarking upon your adventure are:
Does the winery offer free tastings or do they charge for them? Do they have a restaurant on site? What if you want to bring your own food? Will you be touring with a large group? What kind of wines do you prefer?
Many wineries charge a tasting fee. If you are taking a wine tour as part of a vacation, you will need to consider this as part of your expenses.
There’s nothing more romantic than a picnic at a winery. Some wineries have dining available on site while others do not. And some wineries will not allow any outside food. If you want to bring your own food for a picnic lunch, find out what the winery’s policies are regarding outside food and what they have available on site.
Winery’s that offer food on site will often serve much more than the traditional crackers and cheese. Some even offer gourmet meals, and most have a variety of dishes to suit different tastes.
If you will be touring with a group of eight people or more, it’s a good idea to contact the winery ahead of time to let them know so they can be prepared to accommodate your group.
Finally, your preference of wine will be one of the major factors in determining which winery you will visit. Do you prefer red or white? Sweet or dry? Fruity or woody? Full bodied and full flavored or light? Each winery has it’s own distinct style and each produces something different. A quick look at any winery’s website online will give you a good idea of all that winery has to offer its guests, as well as contact information for further questions.
If you would like assistance planning your wine tasting trip, let us know. We have options available for full tours or self-guided tours if you are driving yourself.
The Day Of Your Tour
Before you arrive at the winery, be sure you have eaten something. Food will help your system to absorb the alcohol and keep you from getting too tipsy. It’s natural to feel a little buzzed after a few tastes, but you won’t want to feel hung over after your tour is finished.
The winery should have some crackers and cheese available to go with the wine. This serves a dual purpose. It helps to absorb the alcohol so you don’t get too buzzed to quickly, and it gets your palate ready for the next sample.
Do not wear any perfume, cologne, scented oil or even scented hair spray if you can help it. These items interfere with the aroma of the wine. The aroma is an important part of the wine tasting experience, and any interference will make the wine appear to be less flavorful or it will seem to have an off flavor.
Also, anything that might alter or limit your sense of smell such as some medications or nasal decongestants should be avoided. These will hamper your tasting experience.
Just as your sense of smell is important to your tasting experience, so is your sense of taste. For this reason you should avoid eating strong foods before your tour, such as mints, gum, garlic, and you should avoid smoking as well. These substances will taint the taste of the wine.
Be sure to arrive a little early for your tour so you can relax and enjoy the experience.
At The Winery
Once you are at the winery, don’t be shy about asking questions. Wine making is not only a profession, it is an art which goes back many centuries and of which most wine makers are very proud. In short, wine makers love talking about wine and they are always eager to enlighten their guests about the subject.
It should be noted that the glass you use for your tasting experience will either enhance the aroma and taste of the wine, or it will diminish it. Therefore, if you’ve never compared one wine glass to another, you might want to ask if it is possible for you to do so. Wine glasses which are wider at the bottom and narrower at the rim, such as tulip or egg shaped glasses, are considered to be the best, whereas glasses that are wider at the rim than at the bottom are less desirable.
Each winery differs in the amount of wine you receive per sample. You should know your limit and drink responsibly. It is alright to refuse a sample, or even to taste the wine and then spit it out rather than swallowing it. This is very common, especially when many samples are available for tasting, and spittoons are often provided for this purpose.
There are four general stages to wine tasting. They are:
Taste (sensations in the mouth)
You might wish to keep notes on each stage for each wine you taste, especially on those wines you particularly like.
The first thing you will do at a wine tasting is look at the color of the wine. This is best done by holding the wine glass at an angle against a white background. You will be checking the wine for clarity as well as the overall color.
Next, you will judge the bouquet. Just as a bouquet of flowers has a lovely scent when you smell them, so should the wine. The bouquet of the wine is its fragrance, and it is judged by simply smelling the wine. Taking in the fragrance will not only give you an idea of the flavor, but may also reveal certain faults in the wine, such as yeast contamination.
Now you will taste the wine. To do this properly, you must do it slowly. Take a sip and hold it in your mouth, on your tongue so that it saturates your taste buds. Then, if you can, you will want to open your mouth just a tiny bit to let in some oxygen, which will release even more of the wine’s flavor, before actually swallowing or spitting out the wine.
Last, you will want to consider how your mouth tastes after the wine is gone. This is the finish. Is it smooth? Is it sweet? Is it pleasant?
The most important factor of wine tasting, of course, has nothing to do with how the wine tastes unless you’re a professional involved in some aspect of the business. For the rest of the wine tasting community, the most important part of the entire experience is having fun!