Wine Tasting Tips
Determine Your Tasting Path
Most of the wineries along the Wine Road are open daily.
For those open by appointment only, you can schedule a visit in advance through the winery’s website. Or, call when you are in the area, and if they can, the winery will usually accommodate your schedule.
Most wineries charge a tasting fee. However, that fee is often applied to a wine purchase. Fees vary from winery to winery, and there are still a few wineries that don’t charge a tasting fee. On the Wineries page, you can use the Search by Amenity feature, selecting Tasting Fee, Tasting Fee Complimentary or Tasting Fee Refundable With Purchase from the drop down list to find out each winery’s policy.
If you don’t want to worry about paying a tasting fee at every stop, consider purchasing a one-day Wine Road Tasting Pass. Be sure to review the list of wineries that participate in the Tasting Pass program.
Plan ahead. Although many wineries have limited hours, appointments for tasting and tours are very easy to set up, and in many cases can be quite impromptu, so don’t hesitate to call ahead even if it is last minute!
For assistance in planning your tasting path, the Wine Road offers a few options to help you make the most out of your wine tasting adventure:
- ,Concierge service
- Itineraries by topic, varietals or geographic location
- An online database that lets you search by region, wine type, amenities or the winery name
- Podcasts that map out itineraries that also include local points of interest and dining options
- Exceptional Experiences
General Wine Tasting Tips
Ask questions. The person pouring wine for you is a knowledgeable professional, so this is your opportunity not only to educate your palate, but to learn more about the wine making process. Engage with the people at the winery to learn as much as you can about the wines being poured and what makes their wines different from the wineries around them.
Buy what you enjoy.
Many of the wines you’ll taste along the Wine Road are limited-production wines, and only available directly from the winery’s tasting room or from their online shopping cart. If you find wines you love, we encourage you to purchase a bottle or even a case of it. Wine isn’t like a pair of slippers or other products that remain unchanged year after year. A wine generally sells out in under a year, and each vintage will have subtle changes in the aromas and flavors. So, be sure to buy what you enjoy so you won’t be disappointed when you can’t obtain it at a later date.
Stay hydrated. Having water with you allows you to rehydrate after every tasting stop. Also, tasting rooms have water available to sip, so take advantage of it. Water not only helps you stay hydrated, but it also helps keep your palate fresh and allows you to avoid palate fatigue—something that naturally happens when you are tasting a lot of wines.
Have a designated driver. This is a prudent decision for a carefree day of tasting. There are also many local tour services available that are fun and especially affordable for groups. Go to Visit > Transportation to view options. You’ll find everything from green options to traditional limos, tour buses and rental cars, as well as companies that will drive your vehicle for you.
Have fun! And remember, a smile goes a long way and will be returned.
Our member wineries invite you into their tasting rooms year round to sample their wines. However, please be aware that it is illegal for a tasting room employee to serve wine to anyone that appears intoxicated, even if they have a designated driver.
We ask that you taste responsibly.
- Feel free to use the dump buckets set out on the tasting bar for excess wine. No one is offended if you don’t finish your tastes.
- A best practice is to limit yourself to 3 or 4 wine tastes per winery.
- When possible, have a designated driver.
- Ask before you picnic at a winery, and never bring other alcoholic beverages to drink at a winery. If you want wine with your picnic, the winery can sell you a bottle to share, or may also sell their wine by the glass, just ask.
- Children are welcome during non-event weekends, but please keep an eye on them. Most wineries have heavy equipment running, and therefore it is not safe for unsupervised children.
- Remember, no one under the age of 21 may sample wine, not even your children.
- Dogs are allowed at some wineries, but check before you bring your pet. For a full list of pet-friendly wineries, go to Wineries and use the Search By Amenity feature, selecting Pets Allowed from the drop down list.
- If you bring your dog along, please keep them on a leash and pick up after them as well.
Taste in the suggested order.
Tasting wine in the winery’s recommended order means you’ll get the most out of your tasting experience. Tasting out of the recommended order can change how your palate perceives the flavors and can provide you with a disappointing tasting experience. Why? Here is an example of what can happen. You decide to taste a peppery Zinfandel and then you ask to try a delicate flavored Chardonnay even though this isn’t the recommended tasting order. The subtleties of the Chardonnay will now be masked by the residue Zin flavors on your palate, leaving you unable to appreciate the delicious flavors of the Chardonnay.
Please, make room at the tasting bar for others.
Don’t crowd the bar, especially if the tasting room is busy. After you receive your taste, step away from the bar and give others a chance to continue with their tasting as well. Trying to fight your way to a tasting bar lessens the enjoyment for everyone.
Remember, don’t wear scents.
Please never wear perfume, cologne, after shave, lotions, or use any scented products before going wine tasting. These scented products will affect your ability to pick up the aromas of the wine, which will alter your perception in its taste, not to mention, ruin the experience for other tasters as well.
Getting The Most Out of Wine Tasting
Sip, enjoy, listen, learn, repeat.
Wine tasting isn’t a one-time experience. We hope you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll come back to the Wine Road again and again.
Our Wine 101 section provides some basic information to help you get started. There are also many guides, blogs and books about how to taste wine. Rather than repeat the wisdom of others, we’re providing you with a link to a PDF from the Wine Spectator School that gives a few simple tips or best practices.
Go forth and enjoy the journey into wine.