Touring vineyards and wine tasting is a great hobby, or can even be considered a lifestyle. Not only is it relaxing, it can be great fun. If one has never been on a winery tour here is what can be expected.
Upon arrival to the winery, there will typically be a tour by a winery staff member. The group will learn about the wine making process of turning grapes into wine, as well as the history of that particular winery. The internal part of the winery is where the presses are located, as well as fermentation vessels and the bottling room. The presses are the machines that squeeze the juice from the ripened grapes, the fermentation vessels are usually stainless steel or oak barrels which allow the juice to age into wine, and the bottling room is where the finished product is bottled, corked and labeled. The winery may also offer a tour of the actual vineyards.
After a quick tour, visitors can try virtually any wine they are interested in. The tour guide will most likely teach tasters about the five S’s of wine tasting, which are a way to appreciate the taste of the wine. They are sight, sniff, swirl, sip and savor. The best way to view the color of the wine is to hold the glass up to a white background. Wine is either white or red. A deeper color can mean the wine is older, was aged in a wood container or be due to the type of grape used. Swirling the wine before tasting aerates it and gives it a better smell, and of course smell affects taste. Smelling the wine is the most important part of tasting. Smell each wine at least three times because once the nose gets familiar with each one, a wine expert will be able to tell the different types apart. Savoring the wine means enjoying the taste. Swish it around on the tongue to get the full effect. After the sampling, visitors can purchase a bottle or two of their favorites to enjoy at an indoor or outdoor seating area. Wineries also sometimes have a full menu to eat from or sampler trays of cheese, crackers and fruit. If visitors are lucky they will also have music or entertainment.
Some tours include just one winery, and others include many. If there are several one must be sure to pace themselves. There are a couple great tips for a winery tour. One is to bring a cooler along on the tour to safely bring purchased wine home. Another is to pick up some souvenirs. Usually wineries sell a variety of merchandise; it can be fun to purchase a set of personalized wine glasses or custom champagne glasses from each one. They are a great souvenir because typically they are emblazoned with the winery’s logo. Most importantly, it’s a good idea to have a designated driver or even hire a party bus to drive so everyone can enjoy the tasting, and get home safely.