To put it simply, there are two ways to drink wine. First, just do it. Drink. Enjoy. Be happy. This is the wine appreciation technique that requires nothing more than, you know, a mouth. But the second way to drink wine is to think while you drink. That is, take a bit more time to experience all that stuff that wine gives you the opportunity to experience.
Personally, I’m more of a #1 guy. I like just about every wine I taste and I do have a mouth (this can be interpreted so many ways). But if you’re looking to uncover a bit more, we’ve got some tips. Not from me! No, we’ve got tips from the pros.
I asked a handful of Spokane winemakers and tasting room experts to share their thoughts on what makes a visit to a tasting room a great experience…for the taster. So here are some Tips for Tasters.
Pregame"Be sure to eat a hearty meal with *red meat* before you head out tasting. Protein is important to slow the absorption of alcohol, and no protein does the trick better than red meat (trust me, I've tried them all!) Getting too tipsy to taste is no fun for anyone." – Sonya Morrison, Director of Hospitality & Sales, Patit Creek Cellars
Explore"Experiment. This is your chance to try new varietals and unique blends. Try the white wine, even if you only drink reds. Give the Syrah a whirl, even if the last one you had was terrible." – Russ Feist, Winemaker/Owner, Barili Cellars
"Be open. Just because you don’t think you like a particular wine type (Chardonnay or Merlot) give it a try. You’re out tasting so you can experience new things. If you still don’t like it, most wineries will have a dump bucket." – Josh Wade, Owner, Nectar Tasting Room
Olfactory Considerations"Avoid heavy perfume. While we all like to smell pretty, heavy perfumes can affect not only your sensory experience but the sensory experience of the tasters around you." – Josh Wade, Nectar Tasting Room
"Don’t wear perfume or cologne." – Rebecca Gunselman, Owner, Robert Karl Cellars
"Keep a small container of coffee beans in your bag to cleanse your nose and a package of crackers to cleanse your palate. You want the bottles you bring home to taste just as you remembered them at the winery." – Sonja Morrison, Patit Creek Cellars
The Pour"Don’t pour your own wine. While this may sound like a no-brainer. I can’t tell you how many times that a taster reaches for the bottle when I’m helping another person. Be patient, some tasting rooms get busy, we’ll get to you." – Josh Wade, Nectar Tasting Room
Keep in Mind"Taste is personal. People often look to the tasting notes and are disappointed when they don't get “currants” and “apricots” and “old leather” like the description says. Palates are different and people taste different things. Again, it's not wrong. (And no, we don't know what old leather tastes like either.)" – Russ Feist, Barili Cellars
Safety First"Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Don't wake with painful regrets the next morning." – Sonja Morrison, Patit Creek Cellars
"Designate a driver, don't try to hit too many tasting rooms in a day. I guess our tips can be summed up like this: don't overcomplicate wine tasting. Just have fun and enjoy!" – Russ Feist, Barili Cellars
Obviously all great tips. And I’d like to share a couple more observations: buy a bottle of wine (or more) at each stop on the tasting trail. Usually, the tasting room will waive the tasting fee if you do buy a bottle. And don’t be afraid to ask for a second tasting of any of the wines that are being poured. My wife is always asking for second tastings and the pourers always happily accommodate her.
Director of Communications & Public Relations