If you’re looking for a fun weekend activity and are over the age of 21, wine tasting is definitely an experience you should try! I’m not typically a huge wine drinker, but I love trying new things, so when I was first presented with the opportunity to attend a wine tasting, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
The image many people think of when they hear the words “wine tasting” are often a snobby sommelier pouring sips of wine, and ladies and gentlemen in fancy evening wear swishing said sips of wine around before spitting them into a handily-placed bucket.
While I’m sure some formal wine tasting events might be true to that image, the wine tastings I’ve attended at my local wineries have been much more casual. In my experience, a friendly bartender pours a few sips of wine for patrons dressed in jeans and t-shirts.
If you’re lucky enough to have a winery or vineyard near you (Google it if you’re not sure! – you might be surprised to learn that there are wineries in some very unexpected places), chances are you’ll pay a few dollars, be able to select five or six wines from their tasting list, and then enjoy a nice half hour of tasting. You’ll probably sit or stand at a bar, elbow-to-elbow with other tasters. In some cases, the tasting may be part of a tour where you are shown the winery and taken to different stations to try pre-selected samples.
The first tasting I experienced was on a tour of a Napa Valley vineyard with my family while we were on vacation. It was a beautiful and low-stress experience. We guided ourselves around the vineyard and made our way to stations with different wine selections at our own pace. Often, each station had two types of wine for you to choose from, so you weren’t necessarily stuck with whatever they gave you.
My second wine tasting experience came a year later during my sister’s bachelorette party. We rented a cabin for the weekend in an area with lots of cute shops and local wineries. So, of course, we made sure to taste test as many wineries as we could fit in!
These were all bar tastings, so when we arrived, we made our way up to the tasting bar and were given a list of wines we could taste. We could pick up to five of the wines, and deciding which to try was a bit intimidating for a wine newbie like myself. During this type of tasting, the wines are usually poured from dry to sweet and from red to white. Luckily, the wine list often includes a description of what the wine tastes like and some pairing suggestions.
After picking my wines, the bartender helpfully poured small glasses – each only a few sips – and then stepped back as we sampled our glasses and discussed our thoughts. When we were ready, we simply indicated the next wine from the list that we wanted to try until we had each sampled the five we had selected. This was a great way to try new wines, and many of us left with a few bottles of our favorites!
Some places offer tastings paired with food, such as chocolate or cheese. If (like me) you’ve never really understood how wine pairing works, this is a fun way to see how wine and food affect each other. Often you can select the food choice you’d like to try (I’ve seen chocolate, cheese, and even cheesecake as options!) and then red or white wine. The winery has already done the leg work of matching wines to food samples, so after you order, you just sit back and wait! I’ve tried a pairing with chocolate, and the bartender gave me an instruction sheet saying in what order to taste the wines and chocolates, and the best way to eat and sip to get the desired effect.
Wine tasting is a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon, and a great way to try new things. Even if wine isn’t your favorite beverage, chances are, with the large variety offered, you’ll find something new you enjoy!