Winery Tasting Room Tips

By Steve Heimoff 
In: Entertaining

Going to a winery tasting room is one of the most fun things you can do, if you love wine and find yourself in wine country!

The nice people behind the bar will pour you their latest bottlings and tell you everything you want to know about wine. (They’ll also be happy to sell you some!) You can learn about everything from grape varieties and winemaking to the mysteries of terroir.

Here are a few ways you can maximize your enjoyment next time you visit a tasting room.

  1. It’s okay to spit! In fact, it’s encouraged. Don’t feel like spitting is rude or disgusting. Every winemaker and wine critic learns to spit early in the game. Your host will be happy to teach you how to spit like the pros.
  2. Even when you spit, some of the wine will get into your bloodstream. It’s not cool to get tipsy in the tasting room (and it’s illegal to drive while intoxicated), so it’s also a good idea to eat a little something before and while you taste. The food will help metabolize the alcohol.
  3. It’s also a good idea to drink fresh water in between sips of wine.
  4. Asking questions of the tasting room staff is highly recommended! That’s what they’re there for, to answer your questions. And remember: There are no bad questions! Tasting room staff people are hired, not only because they’re knowledgeable about the wines, but because they truly like people and making new friends. So engage them. Come prepared with a few questions to get things started.
  5. Planning your stops in wine country will increase your chances of the trip being successful. Most wineries and wine regions, such as the Russian River Valley, have websites that give you all the information you need on tasting rooms, including how much they charge.
  6. If you do buy wine, don’t keep it in a hot car. Summer daytime temperatures can get very high in wine country, and wine—a living food—will bake quickly in the trunk or back seat.
  7. If you buy some wine and wish to ship it home, your hosts will be able to help you figure out the best legal way to do it.
  8. And finally, if you’re bringing the kids, call the winery in advance to make sure the tasting room is kid-friendly.

And that’s it! We hope to see you at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens soon!

Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.