Wine Tasting 101

Planning a trip to wine country? Taste wine like a pro with these simple guidelines.

We all remember our first trip to wine country. What wineries we visited, what we felt the first time we saw rolling vineyards, the smell of wine fermenting, how passionate everyone was about their art form, the freshness of the food, and the new shade of purple lipstick donned after a day of sipping red wine.

I made many mistakes planning that first trip. For starters, we spent half the day in the car because I planned tastings in Napa and Sonoma. We were late for nearly every appointment, which just stressed me out. I hate being late. I thought we could manage five wineries in one day. So I couldn't feel my face, much less taste the wines by the time the day was through. Here are some tips I wish I could send to my 21-year-old self. Hopefully you can learn from my naive errors. 

  • I highly suggest making appointments for private tastings or tours. Most wineries provide better services when you reserve in advance.  
  • Don’t over schedule. Allow time to explore the beautiful wineries and vineyards. 
  • Only do 2-3 wineries a day. Anymore than that is overwhelming. You will be exhausted and won’t taste the wines after a certain point. 
  • Minimize driving by keeping tasting appointments close to each other.
  • Don’t drink and drive. They have cops on the main highways looking for drunk drivers. Have a designated driver, hire a driver, take Uber or rent bikes. 
  • Stay hydrated and drink lots of water! Also pack snacks to absorb the alcohol along the way. 
  • Pace yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to use the spittoon. 
  • Please refrain from wearing perfume or cologne. It makes it hard for you (and the people around you) to smell the nuances in the wine if you took a bath in your scent of choice. 
  • Go to the app store and download econcierge app. They have a ton of 2 for 1 and other deals in Napa and Sonoma. Connectivity may be limited.
  • Always ask the hotel, B&B, and other wineries for wineries recommendation.  They usually have good recommendations and some provide you with 2 for 1 vouchers.
  • With the dog and baby, we usually stay at Air BNB’s these days to have the extra space (and kitchen). You can find some beautiful properties nestled in the vineyards. Check out THIS one just north of Healdsburg.

Can't decide between Napa or Sonoma? Read my article on both to decide which wine region is more your style. 

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