Uncorked: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Wine Tasting

Let’s be honest about our relationships with wine.

On the one hand, it can be a scrumptious treat, a delectable delicacy: it can be a savory sip that you desire when you’re dining, unwinding with friends, or kicking off your shoes at the end of an exhausting day.

However, on the other hand, it can be a bit confusing: who hasn’t stared perplexedly at your grocery store’s wall of liquor and wondered which bottle to choose, scanning the label for clues? Who hasn’t seen people at restaurants swirling their wine or examining the streaks in the glass and wonder what kind of tomfoolery is occurring? Who hasn’t wanted to know more about why some wines taste like silk feels and others suck your taste buds drier than Death Valley?  

Let me give you some advice: if you want to better understand, appreciate, and enjoy wine, you should go right to the source. That’s right一 rally your friends, cleanse your palette, and stop to smell the rosé, because you’re going wine tasting!

Now, if you’re intrigued yet intimidated, don’t worry一 I have some tips of the trade and wine etiquette that will help you crush your future wine tastings!

Wine Tasting Napa

Search n’ Click

Search n’ Click. The best place to begin your wine tasting journey is the Internet: with a flick of your wrist and a tap of your fingers, you can find tasting rooms like prospective Tinder dates. However, unlike said potential beaus, wineries are open books with no threat of ghosting. Type in what experience you are interested in, what wines you are eager to try, or which places allow dogs, and in milliseconds, Google will find matches that meet your desires. Now go get ‘em!

Wine Tasting Napa

For a Good Time, Call

For a Good Time, Call. Being spontaneous can be exciting and fun, but if you want to receive the best seat in the tasting room, call the winery ahead of time to make a reservation. While on the phone, you can also ask for the service of a wine associate who knows the most about the region from which the grapes are grown, if there are tours happening during the day, and which restaurant is best in the area. That way, when you arrive, your first glass will be lined up to greet you and you will have already secured an informative wine associate, a special event, and a table for dinner. Nothing but stress-free sipping from here!

Wine Tasting Healdsburg

Taste The Rainbow

Taste The Rainbow. Skittles aside, wine is another food that comes in all sorts of colors and flavors一 varieties that I encourage you to explore and experience (unless you have allergies, then don't heed my advice). I've found that some of my favorite wines are the ones that surprised me, so take a risk! Have a pink! A burgundy! A gold! A green! Life's too short to curl inside your comfort zone and restrict your palette!

Wine Tasting Healdsburg

Manners Matter

Manners Matter. Let’s go back to basics, because so often, we forget to practice correct etiquette, especially when there is alcohol involved. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind before, during, and after wine tasting:

  1. Wear nice but comfortable shoes so your feet aren’t aching by the end of the day. I’ve seen many a person kick off their sandals and wedges onto the floor of a tasting room and you don’t want to repeat their stinky mistake.

  2. Speaking of stinky, do not wear perfume or cologne to a tasting because its smell affects the wine and the people around you. Keep it fresh, not fragranted.

  3. Carry cash so that you can tip your wine associate. These individuals have taken care of you, offered you a retry of your favorite, and been informative and patient. They deserve a $5.00 bill as a thank you, don’t you agree?

  4. When it comes to vocal volume, tasting rooms are a bit like libraries: respect the room and the people in it.

  5. Quite simply: sip and savor, don’t gulp and go. Slow and steady wins this scenario!

Wine Tasting Napa

Dump Responsibly

Dump Responsibly. You read that right: in every tasting room, there are buckets available for you to empty your glass and/or your mouth if you do not enjoy the wine being sampled or if you want to avoid getting too tipsy. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to use them一 they are there for a reason!

Wine Tasting Healdsburg

Swirl Away

Swirl Away. Believe it or not, there’s a technical reason why people create a mini wine tornado in their glasses. By swirling, your wine is exposed to oxygen in the air, allowing it to “open.” As a result, the wine can improve in scent, in taste, and in texture, so before you drink, let yourself and your wine breathe.

Wine Tasting Napa

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask

Good Things Come to Those Who Ask. Admit it: you have questions and you want answers. Good news! There are plenty of wine associates whose job it is to know all sorts of fascinating factoids about the history, technicalities, and joys of oenology (aka the study of wine, if you’re fancy). Want to know if there is a term for the grape-to-alcohol metamorphosis that occurs in order for wine to exist? Always wondered what the difference is between sparkling wine and champagne? Itching to inquire about why some vintages taste better than others? You’re not alone! Trust me, you will not be the brunt of any joke if you are truly curious.

Wine Tasting Napa

Be Safe, Not Sorry

Be Safe, Not Sorry. This is an absolute must and a wine tasting guide would not be complete without it: make sure that you have a responsible driver at the ready and are not putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation.