14 Mistakes to Avoid at a Wine Tasting
Are you new to the world of wineries, vineyard tours, and wine tasting rooms? Excellent! We often wish we could go back and learn it all over again, too, because the process is so fun. As you’ll see here, a limo wine tour is the absolute best way to experience your first tour of wine tastings.
Not only will we escort you to the top picks in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and other Bay Area wineries, our drivers are exceptionally well-versed in the art and science of wine tastings. We can walk you through the process so that you come out with more knowledge and a collection of fine wines to enjoy and learn from when you get back home. Here’s a sampler of information to prepare you for your first-ever limo wine tour. Enjoy!
Acting Like a Know-It-All
If you join a wine club back home, feel free to drop lingo like “briary” and “herbaceous” to impress your chums. But wine tastings are for everyone, of all skill levels and backgrounds. Fancy wine lingo doesn’t make you look knowledgeable, it simply makes you look like a show off. Many of your fellow tasters have absolutely no knowledge of wines, and others are far more experienced and learned than you can imagine. Avoid the jargon. Keep it simple. Wine tastings are about experiencing and enjoying the wines, not a one-upmanship of who’s knows the most.
Spitting Out All of the Wine
Come on! Wine is meant to be enjoyed, and you’re just not enjoying it if you spit it all out. Plus, the aftertaste of the wine isn’t the same if you haven’t swallowed at least a bit of it. Most limo wine tours include about four to five wineries, and you can expect to sample about four or five wines per wine room. So, unless you guzzle all of every glass you’re handed, you aren’t likely to consume too much. Additionally, our limo wine tours include complimentary iced bottled water, fresh croissants, and fresh strawberries, so you can stay hydrated and keep your tummy full, both of which help tremendously in keeping your alcohol levels from becoming too much to handle.
Not Spitting Out Enough of the Wine
Having said that, the wine tasting room isn’t your corner bar. After swallowing a sip or two of each wine, don’t hesitate to spit out additional sips and to pour the remainder of the wine into the spittoons provided in the wine tasting rooms. It isn’t rude; it’s being responsible. Feeling good is one thing. Getting drunk is another, and nobody wants to be the drunk at the party.
Asking to Taste “The Good Stuff”
By design, this question implies that what’s being served already isn’t “good stuff.” Wineries always try to put their best wares out for tastings. After all, the wine tasting is their showroom, so to speak. If you are buying wines, it’s okay to ask for any reserve wines or library wines that might be kept back. But do not ask if you aren’t serious about buying. Better yet, enjoy what’s offered! You might be amazingly surprised to find that you absolutely adore their Zinfandel, even though you’ve never been much of a fan of the stuff, or that you prefer the Cabernet Franc, though you’re usually a Merlot kind of fellow.
Refusing to Sample What’s Offered
Along those lines, don’t turn down a sample of something you don’t normally like. Napa Valley wines (as well as those in Sonoma and other wine regions in Northern California) are incredibly varied. In addition to the numerous grape varieties that grow well there, the local winemakers have developed interesting blends, and many winemakers are notorious for being able to make a grape bring forth a wine that’s far superior to what it normally delivers. Enter each wine tasting with an open mind, a clear palette, and a willing spirit. Allow them to amaze you.
Not Asking Enough Questions
Besides being world-class hosts and hostesses, exceptionally gifted vineyard keepers, and brilliant winemakers, folks in the Napa Valley wine tasting rooms are experts when it comes to all things wine-related and wine region related. They’re storehouses of information on where the best-kept-secret restaurants are (the ones the locals are wild about that aren’t on the travel brochures), which other wineries you need to visit, where the best vineyard tours are, and other things you won’t want to miss during your limo wine tour. Feel free to ask your wine tasting attendants about other wineries, grape varieties, the winemaking process, and other insider information.
Forgetting a Note Pad
Let’s do the math … If you visit 5 wineries on your limo wine tour, and sample five wines per wine tasting … That’s a total of 25 wines. Most likely, you won’t remember much about each wine once the tour is over. A note pad is the only way to remember what you learned. Take notes on everything — your itinerary, the vineyards, the wineries, the wine tasting rooms, and each wine you sample. Note which you bought, as well as which you’d like to try another time. Any information you gather from your fellow tasters or the tasting room attendant should be noted, as well, such as what foods go particularly well with a certain wine, where the wines are sold retail, which states the winery ships to, and other pertinent information. You’ll thank yourself next year when you’re planning that party or want to send a VIP client something special for the holidays. You’ll thank yourself again the next time you’re ready to schedule a limo wine tour of Napa.
Over-Thinking Your Wine Tasting
You’ll learn a lot during your limo wine tour and be exposed to so many intriguing flavors, new terminology, people, and even places. But don’t force too much thought into sampling the wines. Enjoy it more than studying it. Take time to savor the bouquet, experience the high notes and low notes, and wait for the aftertaste to kick in. Don’t become so overwhelmed with trying to get down every little flavor and fragrance your companions toss out there that you fail to savor the wine for itself.
Trying to Haggle Over the Prices
Haggle over your next vehicle purchase. Give ’em heck the next time you want to book a last-minute hotel room or buy that released-just-this-minute tech device. Don’t haggle over wine in a tasting room. That’s certainly a big one among the top wine tasting mistakes you can make. In most cases, you’re talking about $20 to $40 wines. Even with the pricier $100+ bottles, you have to figure what all goes into these prices. Some years, the weather isn’t so good. Crops are lost. Vineyards flood. Rains just don’t come at all, and the grapes wither on the vines. Labor costs are on the rise. Taxes are on the rise even more. Wineries have to pay enormous bills for everything from necessary local, county, state, and federal licenses and permits to property taxes (have you SEEN California’s tax code?); labor to work the vineyards and harvest the grapes; equipment and machinery for farming; pest and disease control for the vineyards; supplies like bottles and corks and labels; attendants to work their tasting rooms; advertising to let the public know they even exist; decor for the toured parts of the winery … and so much more. Wineries are keenly aware that you have many choices about what to spend your money on, and they price their wines to sell. If you are buying in bulk, call later and haggle for a good discount on several cases of wine, but the tasting room isn’t the place.
Leaving Without Buying Some Wine
It’s just good form to buy a bottle at each tasting you attend. However, if you paid $25 to $50 for the tasting, don’t feel too bad if you leave empty-handed. Definitely buy a bottle at any free or really cheap ($5 to $10) wine tastings, and always buy something if you’ve asked for special service. For example, if your attendant went out of their way to fetch you a bottle of their best reserve wine from the cellar or took their time to entertain the children in your group while the adults chatted and sipped, make it worth their while by purchasing a bottle. Or three.
Failing to Make Reservations for a Group
Booking a limo wine tour ahead of time means the tasting room is expecting your party, but if you’re going it solo, call ahead. Just like you wouldn’t arrive unannounced with a party of 10 to the most popular restaurant downtown, you shouldn’t show up at a wine tasting expecting them to be prepared for twice their usual number of patrons. Calling ahead helps them put their best performance on for you, too, because they can have their tasting room fully stocked, have plenty of clean glasses on hand, have the spittoons nice and clean, have enough attendants in the tasting room to serve you quickly and efficiently, and you’ll be rewarded by receiving their optimal hospitality.
Arriving to the Wine Tasting Smelling to High Heaven
Science estimates that about 80% of humans’ sense of taste actually comes from the smell. Enjoyment of a fine wine begins and ends, not in the mouth, but in the nose! Arriving at a wine tasting with smelly aftershave, cologne, perfume, or even a strongly-scented shampoo or body wash, ruins that experience for you. Not just for you, but for everyone else in the tasting room. Set yourself up to get 100% out of the wine tasting by leaving the aromatic oceans of lotions and potions off until after the limo wine tour is finished.
Failing to Tip the Wine Tasting Attendant
Attendants in tasting rooms are much like a waiter or waitress at a restaurant. Most are true professionals who work extremely hard to deliver a stellar customer experience and to perfectly showcase what their winery has to offer. These hardworking folks, especially those at the smaller, family-owned wineries, often double as help during harvest and contribute their efforts to the actual winemaking. Reward great service with a generous tip. A good amount is $5 to $10 per group, depending on the level of service you received and the size of your party. However, if you really did receive poor service, don’t tip. A tip isn’t required at wine tastings, and poor service is never deserving of a reward. If you feel that your wine tasting attendant besmirched the good name of a reputable winery, do the owner a favor and tell them personally through a gracious email or a courteous phone call, instead of posting a furious message on Yelp or Facebook. Negative reviews can ruin the winery’s good name unnecessarily and cost them business, which you don’t want to do if their worst error is hiring the wrong attendant for their tasting room.
Not Taking a Limo Wine Tour Instead of Driving
We’ve talked a lot about limo wine tours, and there’s a reason for that. A limo tour allows all of your party to enjoy the wine tastings, not just everyone except for one unlucky “designated driver.” Who wants to tour Napa Valley without a sip of wine? Plus, our drivers can get you there without those mishaps so common with Siri and Google Maps. We know the back roads, we can show you the scenic routes, and we can help you plan a tour based on the Napa experience you want to have. Now that you know all of the mistakes to avoid at wine tastings, you deserve the best of Napa Valley wine tours — trust your trip to Allure.