What you see
When you sign up for a wine tour, you not only get to taste different kinds of wines at different levels of preparations, but also walk through the vineyards. In addition, many wineries offer activities like golf or just set up a picnic under the sun. The duration of a tour can last anywhere from an afternoon to a fortnight, depending on the location and the choice of package. You’re taken to visit the wine-making facility, and you also get to see how wine is bottled, among other things. At the actual wine tasting, you’ll get to try about four to six different wines, followed by which, you’ll be taken to the gift shop to buy some wine.
What you hear
Most wine tour companies understand that beginners and novices sign up for wine tours too. So, you’ll always have a wine consultant, guiding you through every stage of the tasting. He’ll also assist you in identifying the various notes and layers of a wine. Always remember, there’s no hard and fast rule that a wine HAS TO taste the same to everyone. What may taste like “fruit” to you, may feel like leather to someone else. So don’t get nervous or shy. The consultant is there to merely guide you through the tasting.
What you learn
For beginners, a wine tour is the best way to learn the tricks of the trade firsthand, without making a fool out of themselves. And this is why, it’s best to sign up for a wine tour on a week day or any day or time that sees fewer crowds. Most of the people working at a GOOD winery will have sufficient knowledge to share with you. Moreover, wine consultants are always too happy to discuss their wines, vineyards and their procedures of wine-making. So, ask away!
How it’s done
Most of the wine-tasting action happens at the tasting bar. In most cases, you’ll be on foot even during this event. However, a few wineries do have tables for the tastings. We always suggest a setting of the latter sort, since it comes in very handy after the fourth or fifth glass of wine. So anyway, the wine consultant will bring in some bite sized food and the wine list. The listed wines will be discussed and you get to take your pick. Sometimes, if you’re that lucky, you’ll even get a special tour from the winemaker himself, which may involve tasting wines directly from the barrels or stainless steel tanks. Once all the tasting is done, you get to pick your favorites and buy all the bottles. So, you get to have your wine and drink it too!
What you should do
As formal and uptight as it may feel and sound, a wine tour actually is a whole lot of fun. However, to make the most of the wine-tasting experience itself, timing is of importance. Call well in advance to make reservations (and make sure you choose a day that doesn’t see a lot of crowds). Limit the amount of wine you consume. The best way to do this is by limiting the number of wine tasting rooms. Dress comfortably. Hire a designated driver, but try NOT to get drunk.And most importantly, maintain a log book to document your experience.
A wine tour can be one of the most memorable things you ever did, if you only do that little bit of homework well. And, now that you know what you have to, cheers!
Alison Ince, the author of this post, works at Niagara Vintage Wine Tours, organizers of Niagara falls wine tours. Besides claiming to be a massive fan of cooking, she also has a passion for music.