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Wine Tour Chronicles: What to Expect at a Tasting Room

Wine Tour Chronicles: What to Expect at a Tasting Room

What to Expect at a Tasting Room

Wine tours are a stellar way to explore and learn about wine regions. Many wineries welcome visitors and offer wine tastings. Depending on the wine tour and which wineries you visit, wine tastings can vary from small, private affairs to full-blown wine education courses to wine pairings lunches. In addition to a fun outing, winery visits are a great place to learn more about the world of wine. Whether you are a wine expert or new to wine, a winery visit is an enjoyable experience. But in order to make the most of your winery experience it’s important to understand a few things before you go.

wine tasting room

How to Taste a Wine

First, it’s helpful to understand how the wine tasting process works. While wine tasting can look like an intimidating process, it’s really very easy. And if you have any questions on tasting wine, the winery employees are usually happy to help.

See

Take a look at the wine in your glass. It can be helpful to hold your glass against a white or light-colored background. Look for sediments, as well as the color of the wine. Wine comes in many different colors and even changes as it ages.

Swirl

Swirl the wine in your glass. This helps “open up” the wine, releasing alcohol molecules that will help carry the aromas into your nose, making it easier to smell.

Smell

Aromas are a key aspect of wine tasting, so take several deep breaths before putting your nose in the glass. You’ll notice different scents depending on the wine you’re drinking. Check for any unusual scents. Aromas will vary depending on the type of wine, but it can be easiest to start by identifying any recognizable fruit aromas.

Sip

Take a sip of wine and swirl it around your mouth. Sip slowly so that you can fully experience each sip before swallowing again. Don’t take big gulps — and pay attention to how it feels in your mouth when you swallow. Is it sweet? Is it dry? Is it acidic? Are there any lingering aftertastes? Can you taste any of the aromas you already smelled?

Curated wine menu bottles for wine tasting
Curated wine menu bottles for wine tasting

Winery Tasting Fees

Before planning a visit to winery it’s also important to understand how winery tasting fees work. Tasting fees vary depending on the winery, region, and the wines being offered. These fees cover the cost of the wine samples provided during the tasting and may also include additional amenities, such as a guided tour of the winery, a souvenir glass, or complimentary snacks. Tasting fees can range from as low as $10 to more than $100 per person, depending on the exclusivity of the wines and the overall experience. There are even some wineries that offer free tastings, although it is generally expected that tasters purchase at least one bottle in exchange for the complimentary tasting.

Some wineries even offer tiered tasting options, where guests can choose from a selection of tasting flights at different price points. This allows visitors to select a tasting experience that aligns with their interests and budget. Some wineries may also waive the tasting fee if guests purchase a certain amount of wine, join a wine club, or meet other specified criteria.

It’s essential to research the wineries you plan to visit in advance to understand their tasting fees and policies. This can help you budget appropriately and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Library Wines: A Winery’s Hidden Treasure

Understanding the concept of library wines will also help you get the most out of your winery visit. Library wines are a unique and often overlooked aspect of the wine tasting experience. These are wines that have been carefully aged and stored by the winery, often in limited quantities, to showcase the wine’s aging potential and development over time. Library wines are typically older vintages that are difficult, if not impossible to purchase elsewhere. They can also include wines that were produced in small quantities or from exceptional years.

Did You Know: Library wines are typically older vintages that are difficult, if not impossible to purchase elsewhere.

Wineries may offer library wines as part of a special tasting event or as an exclusive option for wine club members. Tasting library wines allows visitors to explore the winery’s history, learn about the winemaking process, and gain a deeper appreciation for the wines’ complexity and evolution over time.

The opportunity to taste library wines often comes at a premium, with higher tasting fees reflecting the rarity and exclusivity of these wines. However, for true wine enthusiasts, the chance to experience these hidden gems can be well worth the investment. The winery may allow these library wines to be purchased, allowing guests the chance to take home these rare bottles.

winery tasting room
Eyrie Vineyards’ Tasting Room in McMinnville, Oregon

Visiting a Tasting Room: Planning Ahead

If you are interested visiting a winery or wine region, it’s best to do some research before you go. Some wineries take reservations for their wine tastings, and popular wineries can book out in advance. So it’s best to make a list of wineries you would like to visit before you go, and then research each one.

Did You Know: In some very popular wine regions, winery tasting rooms book up months in advance. Be sure to do your research to know if you should make a booking ahead of time.

It’s also important to make a transportation plan if you are thinking of visiting more than one winery. This could range from hiring a driver, calling taxis, or planning a designated driver.

If you are overwhelmed with the planning process, or are unsure of which wineries to visit, booking a wine tour can be a great idea. The wine tour will plan which wineries to visit, make the necessary appointments, and handle the transportation.

Go deeper: Drinking Ages in Other Countries

Want to read more about wine tasting? Try out these books!

The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting- Volume 2Cork Dork- A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

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