Discovering Northern California's
Wine Tasting Tips

Would You Like to Know More About Wine Tasting?

We're neither wine connoisseurs nor aficionados; not wine snobs or  experts. But we've lived near the California Wine Country most of our adult lives. And we've taken our share of wine tasting trips, often with visiting friends in tow.

We've had a lot of fun dropping in on Wine Country wineries, talking to vintners, tasting wines, and sharing our favorite wines with friends and family during and afterwards! In the process, we've learned a few things, so we have some great wine tasting tips to share with you!

Our 10 Best Wine Tasting Tips

Wine Pouring; © Dani SimmondsWine Pouring; © Dani Simmonds
  1. If you're interested in tasting the full range of wines available in the tasting room, start with the lightest whites Then move on to the reds, and end with the dessert wines; your host will help with this
  2. You don't need to taste all of the wines if you'd rather not - you might want to stick with the reds, or only try a certain varietal

  1. Look at the wine, holding it up to the light, and note its color and its clarity - even white wines have a wide range of coloration.
  2. Next use your sense of smell, which is very closely related to the sense of taste - swirl the wine in the glass to aerate it and release its aromas, then give it a sniff and see what aromatic flavors you can detect
  3. Finally the tasting: take a sip of the wine, but don't swallow immediately - allow the wine to hit all parts of your tongue as each area (tip, inner sides, outer sides, and back) specializes in identifying different aspects of flavor
  4. Once you've tasted, you can swallow the wine or you can spit it into the provided vessel (this is perfectly acceptable, particularly if you're tasting several wines and want to keep your wits about you) - either way, be sure to notice the aftertaste or finish of the wine
  5. It's also perfectly acceptable to pour out the rest of the wine in your glass if you only want the one sip for whatever reason - don't worry, it's not considered rude
  6. If the winery provides water or a neutral food like plain crackers use these to refresh your palate between wines - it will give you a cleaner tasting of each varietal
  7. Read the Tasting Notes and compare your sensory conclusions to what you're reading and hearing - the more you learn, the better your experience will be
  8. Throughout the process, be sure to talk to your host and ask questions about the wine, the grapes, the wine-making process, the winery, and the tasting experience - your server will enjoy helping to enhance your experience

Don't forget: everyone's palate is different and some are more highly developed than others. The most important thing is that you find a wine (or wines) that you like and then enjoy!

By The Way, your host may use the word, terroir (pronounced tair-wahr)...

It's a French word meaning terrain and it has to do with the differences in growing conditions from one group of vines to another, including such things as soil type, weather, amount of humidity, sun exposure, etc., and how these elements affect the wine produced from those grapes. If you're interested to learn more about terroir, check out this article at Wikipedia.

Some of the most memorable places to try out your new skills are in the California Wine County of Sonoma County and Napa Valley (especially aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train!), California's Gold Country, Lake County, Lodi California, and Monterey County - just to name a few!

Remember, you don't have to be an expert to visit and taste and learn. And you don't have to have an educated or sophisticated palate either. All you need is a desire to give it a try and have some fun.

That's all there is to it! We hope you've found these wine tasting tips to be helpful and that your next wine tasting trip is just around the corner!

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