Eight Tips For a Perfect Wine Tasting Trip
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1. Do it yourself or use a guide The first step in planning a wine tasting trip is deciding if you’re going to do it on your own or go with guide/tour. There are pros and cons to each. If you’re new to wine tasting, a tour might be the best way to get started and to educate you on the region. However, the costs for tours/guides are typically higher given they provide transportation and many of the other costs associated with tastings.
2. Have a plan If you are planning your own wine tasting trip, before you go it’s best to map out the wineries you want to visit, locate them on the map and chose the most efficient route. This may sound elementary but given weekend traffic in wine country it can mean the difference in a few hours, aka visits to wineries.
3. Driving Always have a driver, be it a paid driving service or a designated driver. You will be drinking and more than likely you will consume more than you anticipate. There are some excellent driving services in wine country, many of which will chauffer you in their cars and others who can drive yours. For instance, Destination Drivers is a great, affordable service I used in Paso Robles that drives your car. It has services in Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and many other California wine destinations. One of the benefits of using a local driver is their connections. There have several times we thought we would not be able to visit a winery but then our driver was able to arrange it. They also tend to have some excellent recommendations on wineries I would not have known about otherwise.
4. It’s ok to dump It’s perfectly acceptable to pour any remaining wine out from your glass during a tasting – even if you liked it and especially if you didn’t.
5. Sharing goes along way Sharing a wine tasting with someone is perfectly fine. Not only do you reduce the tasting fees, but you can also increase the number of wines you’re able to sample since wineries offer different wine tasting options – a reserve wine tasting, a flight of white wines, etc.
6. Reservations and timing of tastings Many wineries only do tastings if you have a reservation so make sure to call ahead. Additionally, if you have a large group – more than four people – it’s best to call before you visit to ensure the winery has room for your group.
7. Wine club discounts When you participate in a wine tasting at a winery and choose to make a purchase you can typically save 10-20% if you join their wine club. If your order is large enough, it’s usually a great deal, that is, until your first wine club order arrives and your credit card is billed. It’s best to simply limit the number of wine clubs you join.
8. Dress for a wine tasting It’s important to be comfortable when you’re on a wine tasting trip but making sure you’re prepared for the different areas of the winery tour will help ensure a good time. For instance, a winery may conduct its tasting on a patio outside the vineyard but during a tour you will visit the cellar, which can be extremely chilly in a summer sun dress and sandals. Plan ahead by bringing a scarf, light sweater or jacket. Something else to consider is if you plan to have an outdoor picnic along the way. Wearing a short dress, may not be the comfortable thing to sit down in.
About the Writer:
Elaine N. Schoch is a travel and wine writer at CarpetTravel.com. You can find more of her travel and wine tips on Twitter, Google+ and CarpeTravel.com. Cheers!
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