Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wine Tasting Tips


Living in California, I have had lots of opportunities to go wine tasting. When I first started going tasting we'd get in the car, drive to Napa, hit wineries randomly (easy to do along Highway 29), drink what was served to us and drink all of it. This was an OK experience, pretty fun but not very memorable. I don't think I learned much about wine or tasted anything terrific.

As I learned more about wine and later moved to Sonoma County, I began to focus my tastings a bit more (example - today we are just going to taste Pinot Noir) and even (gasp!) plan in advance where I wanted to taste and (gasp, again!) make an appointment or two.

Regardless of how you go about selecting your wineries and planning your tasting agenda (and there is no right or wrong way), here are some tips to make it more productive and enjoyable:

- Spit. Yes, spit. I used to never want to spit at a winery because the idea of spitting into a shared spittoon was - and still is - gross. Also, how do you spit without getting wine all over yourself? Enter the personal spit cup. It can be as simple as a disposable cup or as fancy as the Italian ceramic ones that we sometimes cart around (see photo above). With your personal spit cup you can spit into it and then just dump into the spittoon.

- Share a taste. Since you are spitting, volume matters less. You can save some money by sharing a taste with a companion or maybe spring for one taste of a higher level of wine.

- Eat food, drink water. If you are drinking wine, even if you are spitting, you need to eat food and drink water.

- Know your limit for the number of wineries you can do in one day. Even with shared tastes and spitting, I top out at about five wineries. At that point, I get palette fatigue.

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