Exploring Temecula Wine Country: Tips for Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours
Visiting a winery for a wine tasting is an elegant and refined affair. However, certain social guidelines go along with wine tasting. Whether it’s your first time at a vineyard or you’re a seasoned sipping pro, brushing up on the dos and don’ts of winery tours and tastings before you head out on your next visit is always helpful.
What Is a Wine Tasting?
Simply put, a wine tasting is a gathering for tasting and appreciating different wines. Of course, visiting a high-class winery for a tasting is much different than sipping different wines at home alone or at a party. Wine tastings are about savoring the wine and appreciating the different flavors and undertones that come with each sip.
A large part of what makes a wine tasting, well, a wine tasting, is the ambiance of enjoying wine at a vineyard. There, you can truly enjoy the beauty of the vineyard and learn more about the winemaking process for each glass.
Given the high-society class of a wine tasting, it’s normal to feel a little nervous before your first tasting. After all, there are several unspoken rules, and tasting etiquette differs from other drinking etiquettes. From how to dress to how to properly aerate your wine before each sip, let’s take a look at general wine-tasting etiquette and a quick look at different kinds of wine.
Wine Tasting Etiquette
The first thing to do before attending a wine tasting makes a reservation. If you’re checking out one of Best Coast Tours’ wine-tasting tours, rest assured we take care of all the reservation details. However, if you want to visit a winery, call or check their website for reservation options. Not only is this a good practice before visiting any location, but it also allows you to find a less popular day for your visit, securing a semi-private wine tasting for you and your party.
Once you know when you plan on visiting the winery, the next thing to plan is what you will wear. While you don’t have to go white-glove formal for a wine tasting, something classy and casual enough to look refined can be a great option. Avoid sweatpants, old sweaters, or anything stained. After all, wine tasting is all about the elegance and refined nature of the activity, so make sure to dress to impress.
However, it’s important to note that while it’s best to dress semi-formal, you should pay attention to your footwear. Wine tastings often come with a winery tour, and walking around vineyard fields in heels or your best dress shoes can be a bad idea. Aim for something comfortable that can handle a little wear-and-tear while exploring the grounds, but stay within the general dress guidelines.
Now that you know what to wear, there are a few tasting guidelines to follow. Namely:
- Wine tasting is for tasting wine, not getting drunk. Make sure to pace yourself, especially if visiting multiple wineries in one day.
- Take your time and savor each sip. Wine tastings are a relaxing activity focused on savoring the wine, so don’t feel pressure to rush through every glass available.
- While you may return for a second try of one or two wines, try not to go for seconds too often, especially if you’re not planning on buying a bottle.
- Generally, spitting in polite society is a bit no, but at a wine tasting, having a place to spit out wine is part of the experience, especially if you’re looking to pace yourself. Feel free to ask for a private “pour bucket” if one isn’t immediately provided, and try to be tasteful about spitting out the wine.
- Finally, pay attention to tipping etiquette in your area. If tipping is generally accepted, you can tip a helpful sommelier, especially if they provide useful information on the different types of wine.
General Wine Type Guide
Now that we’ve covered some general etiquette rules for wine tasting let’s take a quick look at different wine types, colors, and flavors to watch for while tasting. You can always ask a sommelier what notes to watch or the key features of a particular wine while at the tasting. The best way to learn is by asking questions, after all! Still, to help you prepare for your next wine tasting, here are some general wine types and what they mean.
- Red Wine: High in tannins, red wine comes from black grapes and is fermented with skins, seeds, and stems, giving it a dry, bitter, full-bodied flavor. Red wine becomes less bitter as it ages, so if you’re a fan of the dryness but want to avoid the bitterness, go for a fine vintage.
- White Wine: More acidic than its red counterpart, white wine can be made from just the juice of white or black grapes. This wine is best served cooled due to its acidic nature.
- Rosé: A perfect starting wine, rosé is made by brewing black grapes with their skins only long enough to give its iconic coloration. Unlike some would assume, this wine is not made by mixing white and red wines; the fermenting process is unique.
- Sparling Wine: Sparkling wine is naturally carbonated, hence its name. While Champagne is a popular sparkling wine, only wines from France earn that name. The iconic tall wine glass associated with sparkling wine helps preserve the carbonation.
- Dessert or Fortified Wine: These wines are more of a loose category, as dessert wines are sweet wines, while fortified wines have hard spirits added during brewing, which can, in turn, make them sweeter. Since sweetness is a hard metric to judge, dessert wine is an umbrella category, but expect something with more sweetness than other wines.
While you don’t need to memorize everything about every type of wine, having a general idea of what to expect during a tasting can help you feel comfortable and give you a foundation for future tastings.
Vineyard Tour Etiquette
Being polite and respectful goes a long way, especially when touring a vineyard. Follow all guidelines and rules, and pay attention to your tour guide. Speaking during the tour is alright, but leave space for the tour guide to talk. After all, the purpose of a guided tour is to listen to your guide.
If you have any concerns before your visit, you can always contact the vineyard for the rules, guidelines, and recommendations. With that in mind, here are a few quick points to better prepare you for your next vineyard tour:
- Eat before your wine tasting, as even small sips of alcohol can add up. This also helps you avoid tipsiness while touring the vineyard.
- Bring bottled water to the tasting, but avoid coffee or chewing gum. These can dull your senses and complicate tasting later on. Also, respect the vineyard and throw out the trash only in the appropriate receptacles.
- Asking questions and taking notes is encouraged and a great way to engage with your tour.
- Pack extra layers, as temperatures can fluctuate during the day, and nothing dampens a tour quite like chattering teeth.
If you want to visit some of the incredible vineyards in Temecula Valley, check out Best Coast Tour’s Temecula Valley Wine Tasting Tour. Not only can you enjoy Temecula Valley in an air-conditioned van guided by a Temecula local, wine tastings at several vineyards are included in your reservation. Check out our website today to make a reservation or schedule a private tour.