Wine tasting is inherently enjoyable. Essentially, you spend the day learning about wine as you are sipping it in a lovely setting. Can it really get much better? It can if you know the right questions to ask. These five questions will improve your winery experience, open doors, and up your wine IQ.
- I love Zinfandel, what do you recommend that I taste? This question is best reserved for a tasting room that features a longer list of wines in which you choose a select number to taste. Giving your wine guide some direction on the varietals and styles of wine you like to drink will help create a tasting that is tailor-made for you. Don’t box yourself in to just the familiar though! Make sure to ask the next question when selecting your tasting.
- Do you have a favorite? Whether you’re talking directly to the winemaker or to a tasting room associate, you are standing across from someone who knows inside and out the wines that you are drinking. They may have a favorite of the whole lot or they may have a favorite depending on the day, the weather, or what they are eating. No matter if their preferred wine is a style you never drink, you will learn a great deal more about all the wines by engaging the person pouring for you.
- Is there anything else I should absolutely taste? This question works best when you aren’t visiting a winery on a Saturday afternoon with party buses unloading and tasting room workers pouring wine at a clip to keep the crowd moving through. Save this question for quieter days when the person behind the bar has the time to spend on you. This benign question signals to your guide that you want to know if there are any hidden gems not listed on the menu that might be open (or opened) for sampling. Oftentimes wineries have library or special selections open from events or tastings and are willing to share with a fellow enthusiast.
- Where else do you recommend tasting? There is no better person to ask where else to taste good wine than someone who works at a winery. Winery folks do not just drink the wine from their own operation, much like restaurant people do not only eat at their restaurant of employment. They definitely have their favorites and they’re usually happy to share. Many wineries partner with other local wineries to send business to each other. You may find when you ask for winery recommendations that you’ll receive discounted or free tasting cards to partner wineries.
- When is the best day or time to go tasting around here? This question will help you plan your future visits. Every area is different in terms of busy and slow days, days to avoid, and times when you may get some extra special treatment. Think about what an ideal visit looks like for you and ask questions to determine when that is most likely to happen.
Whether you employ all five questions at every winery you visit or you drop a few inquiries here and there, engaging your wine-tender will certainly yield inside tips and tastes!