Here in Northern California, we have a plethora of fun things to do – visit Lake Tahoe, roam San Francisco, boating at Folsom Lake, wine tasting at a multitude of wine regions – the list goes on and on. Not only is there an endless choice of activities, they are also easily reached with less than half a day of driving.
Today, we focus on the wine tasting. Beginning wine tasters face a daunting task – where to go. Napa is an obvious first decision many people come to, but there are so many other options to consider, so the advice here is to stay local. Keep in mind that wine tasting does involve alcohol, so you don’t want to drive in unfamiliar territory with the potential of being even slightly under the influence. Lodi, El Dorado County, Amador County, Murphys, and Santa Cruz are among the other wine regions to onsider.
No matter where you choose to venture, take along a few crucial items. Water is always a good thing to keep on hand for the wine tasting trip. It is vital to maintain your hydration with water between tasting room visits. Bring along some snacks, too. Fruit is highly recommended, as it can provide not only hydration, but the fructose helps maintain your blood sugar levels. Crackers or bread, cheese, and deli meats are a quick and easy snack, too. Just be sure to bring along an ice chest and ice to keep it all cool.
Which leads to tip number three: an ice chest is a good item to carry along in the car, not only to keep the snacks cool, but also to keep your wine purchases in. In the winter months of Northern California, this may not be quite as important, but still a good idea to bring with you.
Tip number four, while perhaps not as important to some, is to bring along some method of record keeping. This can take many forms – a camera, your camera phone, a notebook, a wine journal – whatever means works best for you. The idea here is that you will be able to look back at the record of your journey and remember where you went, what you liked, who was part of your wine tasting experience, and where you’d like to return. As you get to winery number three or four, the details can get a bit blurry.
As a beginning wine taster, which includes not only first-timers, but those just embarking on the lifelong journey of wine discovery, it’s important to remember that ultimately, this should be a fun experience for everybody. Do not feel intimidated by your inexperience. Most of the people pouring behind the tasting bar are there to help you learn about and enjoy their wine, not to make you feel small and insignificant for not knowing about it. Let your tastebuds be your guide. If you like it, good. If you love it, even better. If you want to spit it out, do so (only in the dump bucket, please!).
Follow these five simple tips and you’ll soon discover how much fun a day of wine tasting can be – especially if shared with friends. Drink local, bring water and snacks, use an ice chest to hold future purchases, keep a diary, log, or photo album of the trip, and follow the lead of your taste buds. You’ll soon be among the ranks of the experienced wine tasters – who never forget the five basic rules! Have fun….one sip at a time!