Winery tasting tours are a great way to spend a nice day with friends – especially during the summer! Air out your wine tasting outfits, prep your palates and brush up on the rules of wine tasting so that you can enjoy our winery tours like true experts.
Reserve in advance
Even if the winery doesn’t require a reservation (most do), it’s best to reserve in advance. This ensures a wider selection of wines and a much better tasting experience, because the winery can prepare in advance.
Most wineries won’t serve more than a plate of palate cleansers. A full stomach prevents the alcohol from going to your head. If it will be an all day event, plan to stop for lunch and an afternoon snack.
Cleanse your palate
Wine leaves residual flavours and tastes on the tongue (called the finish) that can last a short or really long period. In order to truly appreciate the next wine, cleansing the palate is a necessity. Eat a cracker, piece of plain bread or sip some water between wines to prep your taste buds.
You don’t need to finish each glass of wine – there will be plenty more to try! If you don’t like a wine, just spit and dump the remainder. If you’re self-conscious and don’t want to spit in front of everyone, ask the winery staff for a personal spittoon.
Participate & ask questions
There are no wrong answers or stupid questions at a wine tasting. Once everyone has tasted a wine, give your opinion and enjoy the lively discussions that occur. Ask the winery staff about winemaking techniques, varietals, harvest conditions and more to get a full understanding of what made the wine the way it is.
Wineries aren’t bars, pubs, restaurants or sports venues – there’s a specific amount of decorum required. If you’d like another glass of a wine you’ve sampled, ask to “revisit” it. If you’re unhappy with a wine, dump it and move on, instead of proclaiming your distaste. Respect the winery’s rules, wine lists and employees as well as the product you’re tasting and the friends you’re tasting with.
Leave a tip & buy a bottle
Winery servers work hard to ensure you have a great experience. Leave a tip for them the way you would any restaurant server! Also, if you loved a wine, buy a bottle directly from the winery to support them.
Wear strong fragrances, smoke, chew gum or eat mints
Strong fragrances like perfumes, colognes and cigarette smoke mask the scent of the wines not just for you, but also for your companions. Gums and mints have strong flavours and will coat your palate, masking the taste of a wine.
Pour your own wine
The liquor laws governing the serving of alcohol are strict. Ask your server before pouring your own wine.
Drink from the dump bucket
Yes, this one sounds like common sense, but there are people who have done this in the past and there will be people in the future who will do this. Don’t be those people. Leave the contents of the dump bucket in the dump bucket.
Argue against winery policy
Many winery tasting policies are in place to adhere liquor laws in the region and protect the winery from unnecessary complaints, lawsuits or other negative actions.
Originally published in the February/March 2015 issue of Quench Magazine.
You’ve selected your favourite wine and prepared the perfect dinner pairing; now it’s just a matter of serving the wine so that all of the flavours shine. To have all the finesse of a sommelier at your own dinner party, follow these simple guidelines.
Check the back label for the ideal serving temperature from the producer. If there is no ideal serving temperature, here are some general guidelines:
- Light, dry whites, rosés, sparkling wines: 4 to 10°C
- Full-bodied whites and light, fruity reds: 10 to 16°C
- Full-bodied reds and port: 16 to 18°C
Remember that the wine will warm up in the glass, releasing new aromas and characters, so serving slightly over-chilled isn’t the end of the world.
Clear crystal, so the wine’s colour and appearance is unimpeded.
Thin rim, so there isn’t anything affecting the feel of the wine as it passes your lips.
Large bowl that holds 10 to 18 oz.
White wine in glasses with a thin opening to concentrate the aromas.
Red wine in glasses with a wider opening to help the wine aerate and open up in the glass.
Sparkling wine in tall, thin glasses to concentrate the bubbles.
Dessert wine in small glasses for more concentrated portions.
Standard pour is 5 to 6 oz. If you need a visual, pour 3/4 cup water into a wine glass. Have a napkin on hand to wipe up any spills.
- Hold the wine bottle near or on the label.
- Pour into the middle of the glass.
- Stop deliberately and abruptly; rotate the bottle with a sharp twist as you return the bottle to its vertical position. This snappy motion picks up any drops and forces them back into the bottle.
This article, written by Shannon Fitzpatrick, was originally published on quench.me.
Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chardonnay, Champagne – there seems to be a glass for almost every wine. If you are a wine aficionado with an extensive budget and ample space to store a myriad of different glasses, great. If you’re an average wine drinker with a budget and limited real estate to store your glasses, you need not worry. Here’s what we recommend;
The two most popular glass shapes for red wine are the Bordeaux style glass and the Burgundy style glass. The Burgundy glass tends to have a lager bowl and is tapered towards the rim. If you are going to choose one red wine glass, we recommend the Bordeaux style, designed to enhance most medium-to fuller-bodied red wines. A standard glass marketed as a “red wine” glass will be closer in shape to the Bordeaux’ slightly narrower profile.
A Chardonnay glass has a large bowl designed to express the nuanced flavours of the variety. Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis glasses are both narrower, allowing less exposure to air and their smaller size keeps the wine cooler for longer periods of time. These are your best choice if opting for one style of white wine glass.
Flutes or champagne glasses are long and narrow, designed to keep the bubbles from dissipating. If your budget and/or available space doesn’t allow for a sparkling wine glass, a white wine glass will work as well in preserving the temperature and enhancing the flavours of your bubbly.
Stemmed or Stemless?
The stem on a wine glass provides a surface the drinker can hold on to without altering the temperature of the wine through the transfer of body heat AND it keeps the glass free of smudges, thus providing a clear view of color and viscosity. So, although a stemless glass provides a nice rustic feel and fits easily in your dishwasher, it is probably not the best choice.
Crystal or Glass?
The thinner the material, the better the wine will express itself. Crystal is the thinnest; if you can afford it, by all means, go for it. If you’re sticking with regular glass, look for the thinnest version possible. This can be done by inspecting the width of the actual glass (not the circumference) at the rim.
Rosemary Mantini, Associate Editor of Quench Magazine and frequent contributor to Quench Digital, writes a column for quench.me called the “Wine Tasting Club”. Her pieces have everything you need to know about wine etiquette, from tasting wine to cellaring. Click the titles below to read the full articles.
“Pretensions aside, there are some really good reasons why you should learn to sniff, swirl, chew and spit like the pros. Okay, maybe not the chew and spit part. Lingering over the look, bouquet and taste of that wine in your glass leads you to appreciate the terroir (the total natural environment), character of the grapes and the efforts of the winemaker.”
“What to make of fruit wine? Wine, if you want to be technical (and I know you do), is made only from grapes. I hear you: I know that, technically (again), grapes are fruit. But, according to the laws that govern winemaking (with which we won’t argue – at least, not today), only the crushed fruit of the vine – the grape – can be officially referred to as wine. Well, that little directive doesn’t seem to bother all of the fruit wine producers in Canada. Nor does it seem to dissuade those of us who have had the pleasure of sampling fruit wine from becoming quite enamoured with it. Whatever you call it, officially or not, fruit wine is made pretty much all over Canada, and if you haven’t had occasion to try it, do so as soon as you possibly can.”
“Most people buy wine just before they intend to serve it. That’s just fine for the majority of “drink now” wine sold. But, if you have the space to store it, why not pick up a few bottles to keep on hand ready for the next time unexpected company drops by? You don’t need to partition a section of your basement for storing wine, nor do you need to spend a lot of money paying a wine storage company to cellar your collection for you. All you need is to follow the top 5 wine storing tips to get the most out your space and your wine.”
“It’s a topic that can raise the hackles of even the most sedate wine lover. Is decanting a bottle of wine necessary, or is it all hot air?”
“The first thing to do is to toss out the old rule. White wine with white meat and red wine with red meat made sense when whites were basically fruity and light and reds were tannic and heavy. Try applying that rule today and you’ll find your head spinning in the aisles of your local liquor store. Wines are now made from a dizzying array of grape varieties, and in some cases, whites can be much more full-bodied than reds.”
“Don’t know what to do this weekend? How about hosting a wine tasting party? It’s easier than you might think. Make it as structured or as spontaneous as you’d like. There are just a few tips to keep in mind.”
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Published by Quench Digital.
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