Napa wine tasting tours are a lot of fun including beautiful scenery, great restaurant choices and of course, delicious wines! So we’ve put together some wine tasting tips that will help you get the most out of your day.
Have A Plan
Most wine tasting tours will feature 3 to 5 winery stops with 4 or 5 tastings each so you can count on 20 to 30 tastings! In addition, most wineries will offer some choices as to what wines you sample so it makes sense to have a game plan. In general, you want to go from lighter whites to heavier reds in any one tasting. However, if you’re interest lies with a specific varietal, you can narrow your choices to suit your wine tasting goals. Your wine tasting concierge can help select wineries that will highlight the wines you are most interested in.
Eat Before Wine Tasting
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea so have a good meal before wine tasting. Food in your belly will absorb some of the alcohol and slow the absorption into your blood so you don’t get tipsy too fast. It’s important not to get too caught up in the excitement, after all, you’re spending a day drinking. Getting too intoxicated can spoil the fun for you, your wine tasting companions and other guests. If lunch is part of the plan, have a good meal but don’t overdo it. Getting too full can make the rest of the day uncomfortable.
Don’t Wear Fragrances
You will be in close quarters with your wine tasting companions and other guests. Some may have allergies to fragrances or may not like your choice of perfume. In addition, smell is a huge part of wine tasting so skip the fragrances for the best experience.
Dress For The Occasion
Dressing for wine tasting in Napa Valley requires some thought. Napa Valley weather varies and it can get quite warm in the afternoons so something light and comfortable makes sense. Avoid dangling sleeves as they have been known to knock over more than one glass of wine. Comfortable shoes is also a good idea since you may be walking or standing for a good part of the day. Finally, spills do happen so be prepared if you get red wine spilled on you. Darker colors may be a good choice or have a cover of some sort just in case!
You will be sampling many wines from a variety of wineries so if you want to remember some of the stand-outs, taking notes will help. The easiest way to track your preferred wines is to take a picture with your phone. But there’s nothing wrong with a good old pen and paper! Just remember that no matter how awesome a wine is, by the end of your day, you’ll have a hard time remembering where and what it was.
It’s OK To Spit!
Spitting is usually frowned on unless you’re at the dentist – or wine tasting! When you’re on a wine tasting tour, you can expect to sample 20 or more wines. As a result, tasters may want to avoid drinking everything that’s poured. First of all, you could get more intoxicated than you want. Secondly, you can get taste overload where distinguishing between tastings becomes a challenge. So it’s OK to spit out some wine if you’re trying to pace yourself. Wineries always offer a spittoon for just that reason. Or you can simply pour out whatever is in your glass. Either way, don’t feel you have to drink everything you’re given – play the long game!
Drink Plenty Of Water
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body so drinking plenty of water helps you stay hydrated and can reduce the dreaded hangover. In addition, drinking water will cleanse your palate and help reduce staining on your teeth. So there is no downside! Our wine tours always have complimentary water available so drink up!
Hold Your Glass By The Stem
It may seem trivial, but it’s important to hold your glass by the stem. Holding the glass by the bowl can warm the wine, altering its flavor. In addition, it will smudge the glass, impacting the visual part of your tasting experience.
5 S’s Of Wine Tasting
If you’re new to wine tasting, or wonder how best to experience each wine, try using the 5 S’s. In short – See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor. Do this with the folks in your wine tasting group and compare what you each think. You’ll enjoy the wine more and be amazed by the different takes on each.
See: What’s The Color?
Hold the glass up to a white or light background and observe the color and intensity. Is there a lot of light coming through or is it cloudy or opaque? Darker, more saturated colorings indicate great flavor intensity and some idea of how the wine will taste.
Swirl: Let it Breathe
Swirling the wine exposes the wine to more air and tends to bring out more flavor notes. You can also get clues about the wine by how much it sticks to the side of your glass. The more intense wines will leave some streaks on the side as you swirl.
Sniff: What Notes Are You Picking Up?
Sniffing your wine is one the key elements to tasting wines so take a good whiff. What are the notes you are picking up? This can be really fun in a group setting as everyone can chime in with what they smell. Are you getting fruity notes? Pepper and spices? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the smell. No wrong answers here!
Sip: What Tastes Are You Picking Up?
Of course, tasting is why you’re wine tasting. So go ahead and take a good sip and hold it for a few seconds letting it coat your mouth. Like sniffing the wine, focus on what notes you’re tasting. Wines have very complex flavor profiles with many notes all in the same glass. Typical notes can include sweet, fruity, salty, bitter, peppery and more. Share your thoughts with your group and compare.
Savor: How Is The After Taste?
After you swallow the wine, you get a sense of the “finish”. You will get an alcohol taste and the length of time the wine taste stays with you. This after taste will vary from wine to wine and is another feature to discuss with your group.
Keep these tips in mind to enhance your wine tasting experience. Above all, have fun! There are no wrong answers, wine tasting is as much a personal experience as it is a group thing so enjoy!