Never Been Wine Tasting? Tips for the Novice and the Tenured Taster
The history or wine tasting is one that intrigues many vintners, sommeliers and fine wine connoisseurs, and surely something that we will approach over the course of our discussions of wine and wine tasting events at Campos Family Vineyards. Today, however, our discussion of wine tasting is on what to expect when out wine tasting. Recent history tells a story of wine-tasting being reserved for an elite, reserved class of individuals and not something that was open for everyone to enjoy. Yet, as wine has become more accessible and more local wineries have opened their doors to the public for wine tasting, we wanted to offer some insight into what to expect on your first wine tasting adventure. Our hope is Campos Family Vineyards is your first stop, so our professionals can walk you through the process first hand. But, if we are not, we still want you to be prepared and confident as you walk through the doors of your first tasting room!
Dress for the Occasion
Although most tasting rooms are quite casual and do not adhere to a strict dress code, wearing something that matches the energy of the winery is a fun way to go. We recommend layers, since early mornings and evening cool off considerably. Some experts say that neutral colors are the best to wear. White may be a stain magnet for the rich red wines that you are presented with, but neutral colors will allow you to evaluate the clarity and color of the wines you taste without having to worry about reflecting colors on the glass that could impact your assessment of the wine.
Shoes are also important. Although wineries are elegant and often have a formal overtone, there is a good chance you will find yourself walking through hilly terrain in the vineyards or entering fully functioning wine cellars that have steps and slippery floors. Find an option that is elegant, but comfortable and safe for wet floors.
Experts also explain that it is important wine-tasters avoid strong fragrances. Wine tasting is multi-sensory experience and sense of smell is particularly important. If the olfactory is impacted, so too is the taste of the wines.
Tasting and winery tour fees are standard for most wineries, with the exception of courtesy tastings or special, hosted events. In our region, prices vary widely – but, be prepared to pay anywhere between $5 a tasting in smaller wineries in area such as Lodi up to as much as $50 a person in more historic wineries in the Napa Valley. If the Wine Host or Educator offers you a free tasting, be sure to tip generously!
Many wineries will often waive the fee of a tasting if you join their wine club or purchase a bottle of wine. Although it is not possible to join them all, it might be worth taking advantage of wine club pricing structures to save money on bottles to take home and additional tastings.
Do Not Be Afraid to Ask
One thing that many tenured wine-tasting aficionados are not afraid to do is ask! As your Wine Educator or Host for tasting of any limited edition or reserve products they have. While these tasting often are a bit more expensive, they give you the opportunity to try wines that are not openly available or are outside your typical wine buying budget.
If you find you really love the wine, the history of the winery or the grounds, it is also always worth asking for a special tour, or to meet the wine maker. This is not always an option, but you do not lose anything asking and might create a once-in-a-lifetimes wine-tasting experience and send you home with stories and information you’d never have had the opportunity for otherwise!
Are Kids Allowed?
Children are typically allowed into most winery tasting rooms. Some tasting rooms have a variety of kid-friendly games and books available to keep the little ones occupied as you sample estate blends. Other provide outdoor play areas if you choose to extend your visit beyond a tasting. However, a tasting can last up to 20 minutes, so ensure you have something to keep your kids busy just in case there is nothing provided.
Can I Drive After My Tasting?
Since we are not law enforcement, attorneys or qualified to police your choices, all we can do is recommend that each wine-taster should be responsible, use good judgement and know the laws. We do recommend, if you are planning on visiting more than one winery, or enjoying multiples samples, have a designated driver to be on the safe side. Other fun options are to hire a car, go on a wine tour, or take advantage of ride sharing options such as Uber or Lyft.
What’s Your Favorite Wine?
Many Wine Educators will start the tasting by asking patrons what their favorite wine is. If you have one, do not be afraid to share. Most are looking for insight into your taste preferences and not expecting you to state the Estate Wines of the winery you are visiting. There is no wrong answer. And if you do not have a favorite, that is also ok. Let the Wine Educator know you are ready to try them all and learn your own taste preferences.
There are No Bad Questions
Wine Educators and Hosts love questions. Often at tastings, you will be served by one of the owners, winemakers or long-time staff that have wonderful insight, knowledge and stories they are excited to share with an interested audience. If you are not sure what to ask, questions such as, “How long have you been making wine,” to “What wine is your favorite” are all appropriate and interesting questions to ask.
Try Something New
If you are new to tastings, or have been tasting wines for decades, ensure you maintain and open mind to trying new things. Even people who are die-hard red wine drinkers, will often be surprised with the light refreshing flavor of a white wine on a hot summer day. Each wine is made of different ingredients and boasts a unique flavor. You never know what you like, or what you might potentially like, until you try them all!
Can I Buy Something?
Buying a bottle, or 2 or 3, is totally an option. If you find a wine you really like, you are welcome to purchase the bottle to enjoy later at home. Wine is also a great souvenir if you are tasting wines far from home – or a great gift for a friend. There truly is not any pressure to purchase wine, but the invitation to do so is there.
Time to Plan A Day of Wine Tasting
Wine tasting is a fun way to spend an afternoon or explore an area of a community you are new to. It is a unique way to make friends and learn more about the history, and current events of a town. If you are ready to explore the world of wine, visit our website and take note of when our Tasting Room is open. And remember, wine tasting is for everyone. We are passionate about wine and our vineyards and look forward to sharing Campos Family Vineyards with you.
Our Tasting Room Hours:
- Friday: 1PM – 5PM
- Saturday: 12PM – 5PM
- Sunday: 1PM – 5PM
- Hours are subject to change due to special events, please follow our Instagram and Facebook for announcements on changes in hours.
A great way to taste our wines is during one of our many events held at Campos Family Vineyards, click here to view our upcoming events.