Maybe in my late 30s I’m becoming a bit of a stick in the mud. Maybe I’m even becoming my father, but I expect people to act a certain way in winery tasting rooms. Ninety-nine percent of the time they do. Usually they exemplify everything that is great about wine country – having fun while being respectful and responsible. But sometimes they don’t.
There are rules – unwritten and written – that every visitor should adhere to. It will make the experience more fun for you, your fellow customers and for the wineries. And the fact is, the wineries want you to have fun – and hopefully buy some wine. But they also want you to be safe.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you get the most from your visit – safely.
Designate a Driver.
It seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. The tastes you’ll be poured by most wineries are small, only an ounce or two, but they can add up over the course of a day. Make sure that you choose your designated driver before you arrive at the first winery. Don’t assume that “someone will be sober enough to drive” at the end of the day. Nothing ruins a great day at the wineries like a DWI arrest, or worse.
You’re excited about your visit to wine country – and why wouldn’t you be? And you want to pack as much in as possible, but again those little pours really do add up.
Pick three or four wineries that you want to visit and take your time at each, rather than racing through seven or eight in one day. Wine tasting is about more than just the wine. Enjoy your friends, the setting and the conversation.
Bring a Picnic Lunch. There are great restaurants on both Forks and several wineries offer at least some sort of food, but one of the things I enjoy most about a winery afternoon is having a picnic lunch next to a vineyard. Many wineries have beautiful patios or decks where you can spread out and have a great lunch. (Remember though, if you’re going to drink wine with lunch, make sure it’s from the winery that is hosting you. It’s rude to drink wine from another winery on someone else’s property.)
Don’t Wear Perfume or Cologne.
This is a pet peeve of mine – and something that may not bother you as much, but if I’m tasting wine, I want to be able to smell the wine – not the cologne the guy next to me has doused himself with. You’ve met that guy. I know you have. I actually hope you’re not that guy. Just be considerate.
A Tasting Room is Not a Bar.
Some wineries may seem like bars, with people packed shoulder-to-shoulder, three or more deep at the tasting bar, and even cover charges, but they aren’t. Be respectful of those pouring wine for you and don’t ask to be “filled up” when you’re tasting.
If you want to drink to get drunk, head to your local watering hole with your designated driver in tow.
Buy a Bottle to Take Home…If There’s One You Like.
Some people say you absolutely must buy at least one bottle of wine at each winery. That’s ridiculous. It’s your money and you should never feel pressured to spend it on wine you don’t like. Of course, if there’s a wine you really love, why wouldn’t you want to take some home?