Wine Tasting in Napa Valley: Guide to Napa Valley Wine Tasting By Marty Olmstead
Whether you enjoy wine every night with dinner or can still count the number of times you’ve drunk any wine at all, the best way to broaden your knowledge is to sample wines in a tasting room. The winery staff are there to share their products and knowledge and to guide you to getting the most out of your visit.
Don’t be shy about asking questions. These nice people have heard it all and will happily do all the answering and explaining you need. Remember, the purpose in visiting a tasting room is to find wines you like, not to qualify for a game show by acting like you know it all. One person may love a particular wine – for whatever reasons -- while the person standing next to him may decide he can’t stand to take another sip.
Contrary to the cartoon image, tasting wine is by no means an effete exercise. As long as you don’t act pretentious – say, by tilting your wine glass with your pinkie finger in the air – you won’t look silly.
Why is such a big deal made about tasting wine? Because it’s the only way to learn the differences among varieties of wines and styles of winemaking. The more you know, the more you will get out of the experience. Certainly, you can pick up any decent bottle of Chardonnay to enjoy with tonight’s grilled fish or baked chicken at home, without making a major production of it. But if you love wine, or think you might, you’ll have a lot of fun doing some comparison tasting. You can discover why you like what you like and how to find wines in a similar vein anywhere in the world.
Tasting rooms vary from the very elaborate to a simple table set up in the winemaking area. In most cases, visitors simply approach the bar, where a host will set up wine glasses and explain what wines are available that day. Usually you will see a list posted behind the bar or set out on the counter. If tasting notes are provided, refer to them as you taste each wine. Expect to be charged at least a nominal tasting fee, which is often applicable towards the purchase of a bottle. White wines are poured first, followed by red wines, and then dessert wines.
By Marty OImstead is the author of several travel books, including "Hidden Wine Country"(co-authored with Ray Riegert) and the "California Directory of Fine Wineries", all of which are available on Amazon.com.