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Ask a Pro: Wine Tasting Tips for Noobs

Ask a Pro: Wine Tasting Tips for Noobs

Wine Pro Bro,
I really like wine. I enjoy wine at home, at restaurants, at parties with wine-loving friends, but I have never gone wine tasting before. I don't live near a real wine region and it has never really been brought up. So while I am not new to wine, I would love some advice about wine tasting.
I am heading to Napa in a few weeks for a four day weekend with my wife and we both just want to enjoy it without feeling like we don't fit in. Tips?
Tasting Noob
First and foremost, if any winery makes you feel like you shouldn't be there, LEAVE! It's 2023, wineries are in the business of hospitality, and if you are going to spend any money at all visiting one, you should feel welcome.
With that out of the way - onto the tips!

Wine tasting can, and should be, a fun and educational experience, but it can also be overwhelming if you're not prepared. Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your next wine tasting:

  1. Do your research: Before you go wine tasting, take some time to learn about the different types of wine and the different regions where wine is produced. This will help you to narrow down your choices and make the most of your tasting experience. Tasting wines you know you probably won't like doesn't make for the best time.
  2. Arrive early: Wine tastings can get crowded, so it's a good idea to arrive early to get a good spot. This will also give you time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere before the tasting begins. Don't assume you can be seated right away, but this gives you time to take it all in - these are beautiful places!
  3. Dress comfortably: You'll be doing a lot of walking and tasting, so it's important to dress comfortably. Avoid wearing anything you will be uncomfortable of selfconscious in. You want the focus to be on the experience.
  4. Bring a notebook: This will help you to keep track of the wines you've tasted and your thoughts on each one. You will be tasting a lot of wine and keeping track of what you like will make purchase decisions much easier.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask questions: The wine experts at the tasting are there to help you, so don't be afraid to ask them questions about the wines you're tasting. Also, ask them about the wineries, the people, the area, and other recs. These people are legit wine pros and have stories to tell if you are interested.
  6. Swirl, sniff, and sip: When you're tasting wine, it's important to swirl the wine around in your glass to release the aromas. Then, take a small sip and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds to let the flavors develop. Sure, sometimes this looks a little snooty in a restaurant, but when you're tasting, dive that nose into the glass!
  7. Pay attention to the flavors: As you're tasting the wine, pay attention to the different flavors that you can detect. Some common flavors to look for include fruit, flowers, herbs, spices, and wood. If you don't taste what others comment on, that's ok! Everyone responds a little differently to this stuff.
  8. Don't forget to enjoy yourself! Wine tasting should be a fun and enjoyable experience. So relax, take your time, and savor the moment. If you aren't having a good time, switch it up.
  9. Don't drink and drive: If you're planning on drinking more than a few glasses of wine, it's best to have a designated driver or hire a service. Do not, and I repeat, do not be that guy.
  10. Come back for more!: Once you've learned the basics of wine tasting, you can start to explore different types of wine and different regions. The more you taste, the more you'll learn and the more you'll enjoy wine.

Don't overthink it, have fun!

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