5 tips for Wine Tasting like a Pro

By Bronwen Hill

Enjoy your wine tasting weekend, don't regret it!

It's a great idea until the third winery and 10th tasting...

Going on a little wine tasting weekend seems like a great idea, until that 10th “tasting”glass at the third winery within 2hrs! All of a sudden the wine buzz hits and you’re buying wine you realize later you really don’t like. We have all been there.

Wine tastings are fantastic because you get to try before you buy. It is also a great excuse for a girls weekend away, or guys weekend, or couples getaway away, or a to stock up on your wine for the next year…really the reasons are endless and to be honest, not important.

Here are my 5 tips for ensuring you only take home what you will drink and enjoy.

Tip #1 – Be ok paying the tasting fee. It’s not a good deal when you get the tasting for free because you purchased a bottle and upon opening scream “what was I thinking!”

You are NOT obligated to buy wine just because you’ve tasted it. Just because you walk out of the winery with a bottle does not mean it was a successful visit. Don’t get buyers remorse. Of the 3-5 wines you taste, if none get you thinking “mmm – that is good and I would enjoy this with blah blah blah…” then you shouldn’t buy any. Pay the tasting fee and enjoy the scenery.

Tip #2 – Take your time! Wine tasting is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The longer you take, the more you will enjoy your experience…well to a point.

When you arrive, explore the facilities and yard. Most wineries encourage people to walk around the grounds. When you are tasting, smell the wine first, then take a small sip. Then smell it again, drink a bit more and now try to taste those flavours, recognize them. Everyone will smell and taste different things, but that is ok – wine is complicated and that is why we talk about it so much. Start and end the visit with a glass of water.

Tip #3 – Pick a small area to explore. The Okanagan in British Columbia has a lot of wineries, over 300! Clearly you can’t do them all. Thankfully it is broken up into smaller areas, Kelowna, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Ooysoos, Similkameen…you get it. Before you leave home, narrow your wineries to a small area each day. This will give each day a purpose and you get to try different wines from the same area. The terroir changes greatly even in small distances and you will notice it.

You can also consider theming your trip. Select wineries that suit your ethos, such as organic or utilizing sustainable practices.

Tip #4 – Pack snacks and water. This will help with tip #2 also. Pack snacks, enjoy them on the grounds of the vineyard. This avoids you trying to pick the next winery based on if they have a restaurant or not!

Tip #5 – Choose your wines. At every winery tasting, you do not need to a try all the wines on offer. Look at what is available, consider the types of wine you like and pick one that is different to you and 2 others. Start with the lighter wines first, and finish with the more full bodied, robust blends so they don’t ruin your palate.

Of course – always have a designated driver. Each person in the car take a day…or organize a private driver so you get to see the places you want to see, not the ones that can take a bus load of people all at once.

Many popular wine regions also run group tours that include transportation between the wineries. If you want some recommendations, give me a call!