You’ve got big decision to make when planning your ultimate wine tasting trip. Once you have decided which wine region you’re going to and how long to spend there, here are of few other things to consider.
Here are a few tips to consider while planning your next wine tasting trip:
1. Contact the Local Wine Region Association
Most wineries belong to a regional association of wineries that promote and educate about the wine region. These groups have a list of local wineries with descriptions and links to the winery websites that can help you narrow your choices to a reasonable number. In addition, they usually have a list of wine tasting events happening throughout their tourist season.
Here are some regional wine associations to check out before your next wine trip.
2. Ask Yourself What Kind of Wines You Want To Try
Is the purpose of your wine trip to learn about new wines, sample grape varieties you already love, or a bit of both. You’ll want to think about this question: What styles of wines do I already like? Imagine yourself standing at the tasting counter with a wide selection of wines available to sample and not having a clue what to ask for. It will help the persona behind the counter pour something you have a good chance of enjoying if you have an idea of what you like already. Think of the characteristics of wines you already drink. These charts from Wine Folly will help you put those flavours into words.
White Wine Fruit Flavour Characteristics:
Red Wine Fruit Flavour Characteristics:
If you are going to try specific wines make sure to choose wineries that specialize in that wine. Otherwise, you may end up disappointed when you get to a winery that does not have the varietal you want. For example, if you’re going to Marlborough, New Zealand, don’t expect to find big, bold, tannic Cabernet Sauvignons. You may want to consider a different sub-region or open your mind to trying some Pinot Noir and Merlot.
If you’re checking out a region you’re unfamiliar with, you can alway search right here on JustWine for info about different wine regions around the world.
3. Create Your Winery Itinerary for the Ultimate Experience
Call ahead and make reservations whenever possible.
Not everyone wants to make plans when they’re on vacation, but you don’t want to waste your valuable wine time waiting for a tour to start or getting to the winery and finding it closed unexpectedly. In fact, some wineries require an appointment so you’re best to call ahead, just in case. You can still be spontaneous by leaving extra time in between winery visit, so you can decide to do an extra activity or take a little more time exploring the vineyards before heading to your next tasting.
Be sure to calculate travel time into your plans!
It’s also a good idea to hire a local driver for the day. This way no one from your group needs to be left out of tasting great wine by being the designated driver. It also saves you a lot of time getting lost “because the GPS took us to the wrong place.” Many wineries have lovely restaurants and patios for meals. Some offer a picnic basket which is a lovely way to really get out and explore. Again, some of these activities require advance notice, so make sure to do your homework and plan what you would like to do. If you are bringing your children make sure the winery is kid-friendly and bring plenty of activities for them to do alone or as a family along the way.
You may be tempted to sleep in, but mornings are a great time to get to a winery.
You’ll get more attention from your hosts and have less chance of waiting in line ups or being crowded by other tourists. Get a head start on lazy travellers and limit your wineries to a maximum of three a day. Knock of two in the morning, have a nice long lunch then take a little extra time in the afternoon in case of crowds or if you have lots of questions.
4. Don’t Be Shy — Ask A LOT of Questions on Your Wine Trip!
You are at the winery to taste delicious wines and to learn something, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions. Winemakers, owners and hosts are glad to share their wine passion and their craft. Take advantage of having a wine expert at your disposal. Besides, there really are no dumb questions and you can be sure they’ve heard it all! Ask questions like: What food does this wine pair best with? What was the inspiration behind making this wine? Is this wine meant And anything else that you would like to know. Check out our wine guides and our Tasting Fundamentals article to help you prepare.
Image Source: Crushed
5. Tips for Buying the Right Wine and Souvenirs
People usually buy a bottle or two before leaving a winery, but beware of temptation because bottles add up fast. You may be tempted to buy 6 bottles from your first winery because you liked them all, but remember you are going to be visiting other wineries and you’d probably like to buy a bottle or two there as well.
DO NOT leave your bottles in a hot car trunk. Cooked wine tastes awful! Buy a special wine cooler for your trip or ask the winery about shipping. Shipping is a great option, especially if you are on a long trip. You won’t have to carry the wines with you for the entire trip and the wine will arrive directly to your home as a sweet memory of your fabulous wine trip.
Sometimes atmosphere can change the taste of a wine. While your home may be awesome and you know how to serve the wine perfectly, the atmosphere of tasting a wine at the winery where it was made, with wonderful people and beautiful surroundings, will you’re on vacation, may make the wine taste better than ever. Our emotions and environment often dictate our wine experience. Which is why we go to wineries in the first place! On the other hand, tasting it again in your home will definitely hit the spot and leave you excited for your next wine trip.