Some Tips For Enjoyable Wine-tasting Trips

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - July 14, 2010
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A fun, eclectic blend

We are deep into summer, and many of you will be traveling to destinations far and wide. Some of you may even be planning to visit wine producers in far-off lands.

I have done a little bit of traveling myself and have some tips on making your visits as enjoyable as possible.

* Be on time. It may be one of the most important things to keep in mind. Some wineries do not have tasting rooms or dedicated hospitality individuals, so the winemaker and/or owner will be the one to receive you. As a winemaker and/or vine grower, you can imagine there is always plenty to do. Just logistically, they may have another appointment they may be late for and you might push their entire day back. You may miss out on a treat if the time that has been allocated to you is shortened because you are late, as some winemakers may at times go “deep” into the cellar to pull out a treasure for you to taste. You don’t want to miss out on that. Some producers get visibly irate, and you don’t want that. So do call and let them know if you are running late. It’s not only common sense, it is etiquette.


* Go easy on the perfume or cologne. Whenever you are going to taste wines for the benefit of others and the winemaker, please do not overshadow or taint the wonderful aromas and flavors that the winemaker has tried so hard to preserve in the wine. I know it may be difficult for some to resist the normal daily routine of splashing some aftershave on or spraying on your favorite cologne. These scents truly do diminish the experience of the wine. It competes with it, changes it and can dominate the wine’s raison d’être. It would be like bringing some paint and a paintbrush to an art gallery and slapping it around on the walls - not a good idea.

* Ask as many questions as possible. Most winemakers love it when visitors are generally engaged and interested in their wines. They feel lost when they see a group of poker faces before them. They even get worried when they don’t get any feedback or comments. It’s also one of the best ways to illicit reaction and commentary from the wine-maker or owner themselves to gain insight to their own ideas and philosophies on their or others’ wines. Some winemakers can seem stoic and even reserved until you start peppering them with inquiries. Then, as if the light has been turned on, they become animated, eloquent and impassioned. It’s much more fun than just tasting from a glass.

* Visit the vineyard. The world’s finest wines are an expression of a single place on earth. To be able to see it, smell it and walk in it is to gain a better impression of what it produces in the glass. It is the source. By being there you will be able to better appreciate its nuance and greatness. The winery or cellar can be a wonderful visit, but the vineyard is where it all begins.

Recommendations: NV Sokol Blosser “Evolution” ($15) This is a unique and eclectic blend of white varietals that combine to give a fun, tropical ripe-fruit nose that reminds me of papayas and pineapples. It hits the palate with a vibrant and refreshing mouth-feel and is simply fun to drink; great with salads and seafood. 2008 Anselmi San Vincenzo ($12) Another zesty and aromatic white from Italy with a sense of place and mineral complexity. This is a terrific cheese plate accompaniment. Lemon zest, peach skins, wet stone and apples gush onto the palate into a cleansing finish.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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