A Simple Guide to Going Wine Tasting

Severatasting room(120124)Credit: morgue filel years ago I took a job in a wine tasting room at a small, family-owned winery in Northern California. I had no intention of staying at that job for more than a couple of years, and now, ten years later, I'm still involved working part-time behind the counter, pouring wine to customers, enjoying a hassle-free job, and meeting interesting folks who are relaxed and happily out for an enjoyable day.

Making and selling wine is a big business across the country and world-wide. There's a certain mystique to this 'good life', but just about anyone can participate in the enjoyment and learning about wine, and going wine tasting is a lovely way to get started learning, or just for enjoying a fun day.

So here's a guide for wine tasting for beginners, based on my 10+ years behind the counter:

Wine tasting basics are few, but if I may suggest, take your first wine tasting experience to a smaller winery. If you visit one of the big names, you can be overwhelmed with the crowds. Larger wineries can be overflowing with people, and you may get lost in the shuffle, wondering, "So what's so great about this?"

A smaller winery, off the beaten path, offers the beginner a richer, more relaxed experience. wine barrels(120125)Credit: morgue filesAsk around, or go on line, you'll have plenty to choose from.

Don't plan on tasting at too many stops! Pick three or four tasting rooms and take your time. Overdoing it can lead to a not-so-good day.

Pack a lunch. Many wineries have picnic areas available. A tip is to first ask if they mind if you picnic there. You'll gain "wine etiquette" points for the day. Remember to drink lots of water....you'll feel better for it!

More style points can be gained for being friendly and understanding if the room gets busy. Your hosts will definitely notice, and you will get good, friendly service, where Mr. and Mrs. Bossy Pants will be merely politely tolerated.

Don't be shy about asking a couple of questions about the wine or winery. The smaller staff are helpful with suggestions for wines you might enjoy trying or foods that may pair well with the wines being poured. Staff are often proud to point out environmentally-friendly farming practices their winery is engaged in, so don't hesitate to ask.

Going wine tasting can be paired with other local activities like taking a walk at a local park, visiting a local produce stand, or just shopping a little in the area. These activities  will break up your day pleasantly, burn off some of the alcohol, and give you a more intimate look into the area you are visiting.

hillside vineyardCredit: morgue filesSome tasting rooms charge a fee for tasting, and often that fee is waived if you purchase. Some smaller tasting rooms don't charge, but if you find a bottle you would enjoy at home...Style points for a purchase!

Hopefully these simple suggestions will help with the how-tos of your first wine tasting tours, and put you more at ease, so you can enjoy a great day, arriving  home safely and relaxed.