Make Your Reservations Ahead of Time
Usually, this goes without saying. But rookies have to learn– if you’re headed to the top wineries in the region, you have to make a reservation ahead of time. Wine tasting is an olympic sport these days, and the gold medalist will have their reservation on lock AT LEAST one week in advance (oftentimes months in advance for the most exclusive wineries).
Secure Your Transportation
Wine tastings are a boozy, boozy occasion– you’ll need a reliable designated driver. That driver can be a member of your party, sure, but you can also ride in style. Wine country is a booming tourism industry, fully equipped with drivers and tours. Sure, you can Uber, but booking a driver will level-up your wine country experience and is often the overall cheaper choice.
Don’t Go On An Empty Stomach
If you want to stay sober enough to see the end of your wine tasting– eat something first. Wine tasting day is not the day to skip breakfast. Start your day with a big brunch (if you’re in our neck of the woods, we recommend Grace’s Table in Napa and Market in Saint Helena), there’s nothing quite like a mimosa (or just orange juice!) before a wine soaked day in the vineyard. Be sure to pack sandwiches if you don’t plan on stopping off for lunch.
Dress for the Occasion
Tasting wine all day doesn’t sound like hard work, but be warned, it can totally wear you out. There is such a thing as the right wine tasting outfit, and you’re going to want to make sure you’re wearing it.
Start with “wine country casual,” which tends to be a bit more dressy than casual-casual. Think elevated basics or smart chic– especially if your tastings include a formal meal. We tend to opt for darker colors, because wine stains on your shirt can put a damper on your #WineTasting aesthetic. When you’re in wine country, wear white with caution!
Avoid high heels or uncomfortable footwear at all costs! Many wine tastings are held at a standing bar, and vineyard tours can take you into rough terrain. Comfort is always key. Wine tasting is a great time to bring out the boots, sneakers, and comfy sandals.
Finally, we would also advise you to skip any fragrances and perfumes, as they can interfere with your perception of the wines’ true aromas.
Talk to Your Somm
This should go without saying, but your somm is there to help you! Don’t waste any time being shy, share your wine preferences and your thoughts on the juice they’re serving. Finding a wine that you’ll love is a somm’s bread and butter. Be honest about your tasting, tell them what you like, what you don’t like, the tasting notes you’re picking up, the dinner parties you’re hosting, your deepest darkest secrets, anything that would help them get the vibe of what you’re looking for.
Organization is not the sexiest aspect of wine tasting, but it is essential if you want to leave the winery with a few bottles you love! Bring a pen and maybe a little notebook, and unleash your inner wine critic.
Don’t let your eyes veer off of the prize– the main prerogative of your wine tasting day should be to take your favorites from the tasting back home with you.
Wine tasting veterans know how it goes. Wine tasting turns to wine drinking which turns to wine barfing. And even when it doesn’t turn into a disaster, you’ll certainly run into palate fatigue whereby everything starts to taste the same. Those little tastes add up, and if you have a whole day of tasting ahead of you, you have to pace yourself. The spit bucket is part of the culture! Don’t be afraid to use it. If you’re nervous about spitting in front of strangers, we have got you covered- here’s the technique.
Take a medium-sized sip of wine and switch it around your mouth, avoiding your teeth as much as possible. Once your wine is lukewarm and foamy, stand over the bucket (not too close, beware of any splashes,) and push the wine out of your mouth. Use a bit of force to avoid any dribbles, but spit with gumption… like a sailor, or a lama.
But ultimately, all you have to do is spit– don’t psych yourself out too much. Your next morning self will thank you.
Wine tasting is an experience every wine lover cherishes! Buuut setting up enough vine-time can be a struggle, even for us Napkins! If you’re looking to explore good juice from around the world (without the tasting fees), check out our daily offer. We taste thousands of wines annually so you know you’re getting the good stuff!