How to Go Wine Tasting
A very cool selling point of San Francisco (as if it needed another) is its proximity to wine country. Especially because I live on the very northern edge of the city, it takes me less than an hour to get to Sonoma.
I had my first winery experience (I think) at 19 in Italy. We went to Chianti and… it was almost 7 years ago and the details are a little hazy. In college I took a wine tasting class (Vines to Wines) and was reminded on how to properly drink wine.
Wine is definitely an acquired palate. Most people traditionally begin drinking sweet white wines and has their tastes become more refined, they end up drinking drier reds as time goes on. I personally love most dry wines – both white and red – but red wine makes me sleepy and I like drinking cold things, not room temperature things so I usually order white.
How to Go Wine Tasting
- Most cool, good wineries in Napa/Sonoma require reservations (i.e. Scribe). If you see a winery or vineyard has crappy reviews on Yelp, it may be because people are angry they didn’t have a reservation and were turned away.
Visit one to three wineries in a day.
- Don’t get too aggressive with how many wineries you think you can visit. Before I did my first solid wine-tasting day in around two years, I thought 4-5 wineries in a day was totally doable. It is not. Do one to two, three if you’re feeling super ambitious, but you’re probably not even going to taste the wine at the third winery because you’re buzzed/drunk. Just putting that out there.
Don’t pretend to know everything about wine.
- If you know about wine, AWESOME. If you don’t – just be honest with the person doing your tasting! You want to learn something and enjoy what you’re drinking. If it’s a winery that actually cares about their product, they’re going to hire knowledgable tasting room employees that can tell you about the wine. You might think you hate one type of wine (Riesling until I drank Scribe’s) but each wine maker does so many different things that you might be surprised.
- And remember to eat lunch, or at least pack snacks. Some wineries in Napa/Sonoma let you picnic on their property but it’s California so they have to have some stupid permit or something to allow you to do so.
Have a designated driver.
- Seriously, this doesn’t need an explanation. Also a bike does not count as a designated driver because Biking Under the Influence (BUI) is a real thing. I have ridden a bike (many years ago – okay, like three) after a few glasses of wine and I still remember it because I thought “Wow, this isn’t the best idea I’ve ever had”.
If there are tour busses, stay away.
- Unless you want to do a wine tour on a bus, that’s totally cool. Then you kind of are at the mercy of the company and they probably have good deals with several wineries in the region. If you’re on your own, visit smaller wineries where you will get more personalized attention. I mean, I hate crowds and if a vineyards is basically a Disneyland with booze, you can count me out.
Chat with me:
Have you ever been wine tasting? What are your favorite types of wine? Do you have any ridiculous wine stories you want to share?