If you’re new to the wine world and the tasting room experience, at first, it can be rather intimidating especially the first time you walk into a winery and see people standing behind the bar ready to serve you.
This guide should help prepare you for your first experience, or, if you’ve been, many down the line.
1) The Drive Up
When you first get to the winery or tasting room, often times, vineyards may be surrounding the area. Look for the signs that will easily direct you to where the tasting room may be.
Some wineries even have gardens along their winery, so take your time. Perhaps browse around in the gardens before going up to the tasting room, or take your photos of the vineyards.
2) First Entrance
When you open that door many things can happen. You may be greeted by a greeter at the winery. The greeter will introduce themselves and then direct you to the tasting room where they will begin to help you with your wine selection.
Some wineries may have a restaurant connected to their space so you may see a hostess waiting to greet you or a separate shopping area where you can browse through various wine gifts.
And then of course the tasting area. Take your time browsing around through the fun gifts then when you feel like it walk up to the tasting bar.
3) Tasting Bar
Each tasting room or winery may have a way of doing things. Typically, at the majority of wineries you walk up to the tasting bar and they will have various flights already established for you to try out. Tasting flights can range from 5 dollars to 25 dollars.
Flights can range from 3 to 6 tastings and will usually start with white wines then guide you into the red wines and often times finishing with a dessert wine.
Some menus allow you to choose the wines you want to try directly because their offerings are so broad.
At some wineries (Gloria Ferrer, for example) they do tastings on you purchasing a glass of wine to try, etc.
4) Utilize the Person Behind the Counter
If it’s your first time it’s totally okay to ask the person behind the tasting bar to help guide you through the process. They are there for a reason, and often times, very knowledgeable.
Also, if you have questions this is your time to ask them. Make it a genuine conversation and just enjoy yourself during your tasting experience.
5) It’s okay to pour your wine out!
We often think when we’re going through a tasting that we may have to DRINK every single drop of wine, but sometimes we run across a wine we don’t like.
There’s a reason those pour out buckets are on the tasting bar to pour that wine out. The point of trying out a wine flight is to find wines you like. There’s no guaranteed that you’ll enjoy everything.
6) The Sales Pitch
Near the end of your tasting the person behind the counter may ask you if there are any wines that you like and may be interested in purchasing. Don’t get offended, this is their job, and this is how the winery truly makes their money, by selling their wine.
You don’t have to buy a bottle, but if there was something you enjoyed definitely bring something home, or buy a bottle then go out into the vineyards and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.
7) Enjoy the rest of the Afternoon!
Some wineries may offer tours (Benziger, Sebstiani, many others) on their properties so after your tasting see if there’s any openings to join a tour. Often times, it’s recommended to book those tours in advance.
Or take the time to browse around the shop a little bit more or the grounds around the winery, or head to your next tasting room.
The Tasting Room Experience isn’t meant to be intimidating. It’s there to showcase the wines of that particular winery, and for you to try them and find wines you truly love so just have fun with it.