Wine Tasting Tips and Tricks
Want to do some wine tasting, but not sure where to start? Not necessarily a wine expert, but want a nice experience? Then check out our top 10 tips for getting the most out of your cellar door visit.
Tip#1: Engage with the cellar door staff. First time (or even regular) cellar door visitors may be a little intimidated by the tasting experience, but there is really nothing to fear. The more you engage, the more engaged the staff will be and the more you will get out of the experience. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to have an in depth wine discussion; we have had some of the best recommendations for restaurants, things to do, etc in the region from the teams at cellar doors
Tip#2: All wineries/wines are different. Unless you definitely know you don't like a particular wine varietal or style from the region you are visiting, or you are only looking for something in particular, then it's best not to unnecessarily limit your tasting options by making blanket exclusions. e.g., we often hear people at a tasting say that they don't like red wine. Unless you have tried them all, you never know what you might discover....
Tip#3: Don't be shy; try the wine. The purpose of the cellar door is exactly that, to try the wineries wines and decide whether you like them. If you don't try them, it's very hard to know!
Tip#4: Be honest. If you like the wine, tell them. If you don't like the wine, tell them. As with most things, the beauty of wine is that everyone's tastes are different. The winemakers and cellar door staff know that their wine will not appeal to everyone, so they won't be offended if you don't like it
Tip#5: Pour out what you don't want. Whether or not you like the wine, tipping out what you don't want is to be expected and is not a reflection of how you felt about the wine. All cellar doors will have somewhere to tip out the wine (a "spittoon"), so if it is not obviously visible, be sure to ask (they may often be in the form of a wine barrel, champagne chiller, etc so may not be immediately obvious!)
Tip#6: Keep notes as you go. Most cellar doors will have a tasting/order form. This is a great tool to remind you of what you have tried, to make notes on and ultimately help you when you get to the end of the tasting in deciding what, if anything, you would like to buy
Tip#7: Ask about their clubs/discounts. If you are looking to purchase, be sure to ask about any wine clubs or offers they may have. You can often get 10%-20% off just by signing up to receive an occasional newsletter, with no further obligation. There are also often some great deals if you would like to receive regular delivery of wines
TIP#8: Any tasting fees will generally be refundable on purchase. A number of cellar doors charge a nominal tasting fee to cover their costs. However, for the majority of cellar doors, this fee will be refundable on purchase of any bottle. Be sure to factor this into your decisions and make sure you ask at the outset to avoid any surprises
Tip#9: There is no obligation. Don't feel obligated to buy any wine if you don't want to. Cellar doors don't expect that every person will buy wine every time they visit. However, if you enjoyed the experience, like the wine, want/need the wine and can afford it then the cellar door will certainly appreciate your support
Tip#10: DRINK RESPONSIBLY. While a few tastings may not seem like much, they can add up very quickly. Be sure to drink plenty of water along the way and if you are planning on trying a few wines, be sure to arrange either a designated driver, or alternative means of transport.
To try the wine there a few things that the cellar door assistant will probably direct you to:
The colour, is it a deep purple red or rusty red or with the whites golden yellow or really quite colourless, although the colour doesn't affect the taste, as they say you eat with your eyes so an appealing colour helps.
The nose or bouquet - how does the wine smell, to test this you should swirl the wine round in the glass and then put you nose in the top as soon as you stop swirling, the swirling releases the aromas of the wine. You may smell berry or passionfruit etc, it's really quite amazing. We are pretty useless at picking what the smells are but generally the cellar door assistant will give you some hints and we can generally detect it then, cheating I know
The legs (yes legs, you heard right)- when you swirl the wine around the glass, how long the wine takes to move down the glass back into the body of the wine.
Finally the tasting, you should swirl the wine around your mouth to make sure you pass it over all the tasting areas of your tongue and then suck in some air with the wine and then swallow, you should then taste again. Some people will spit into the spittoon at this point, if you are driving and tasting a few wines then this is highly recommended, and remember it is ok to pour the rest of the tasting into the spittoon.