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  • Writer's pictureSierra Williams

Tasting Room Conversations

Questions to ask tasting room staff to maximize your tasting experience.

Let’s face it, the wine world can be pretty intimidating.The stigma surrounding wine can be very off-putting and overwhelming, but you don’t have to be a renowned sommelier to enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

We have all been there. Listening to a bunch of wine jargon, completely lost, hoping the “buzz” hits soon.

Don’t be intimidated, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are some basic questions/tips to make you feel more confident when attending a tasting.

Get to know the region

If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with learning more about the growing region.

What is the climate like in this area?

What is the soil type? (silt, sand, clay, or loam)

What characteristics does this specific soil offer the wine?

Are the vines grown at high or low elevation?

Is this region ideal for growing grapes? If so, why? If not, what struggles do the winegrowers face throughout the season?

Get to know the winery

Next, ask questions about the history of the winery or vineyard. The winemakers and staff at the establishment are proud of their products and have a story to tell.

Are your grapes grown locally?

Are these estate wines?

Is there a story behind your labels?

What varieties do you grow?

What inspired the winemaking journey?

Get to know the winemaker/winemaking process

You have now acquired some knowledge on the region, history, and the winery’s unique story. Next step is learning how it’s made. There are traditional and non-traditional winemaking approaches and methods. Start with some basic questions:

Was the red wine aged in oak barrels? If so, for how long?

Was the oak American or French?

What was the intended purpose of the oak? To add flavor or improve the structure of the wine?

If oak barrels weren’t used, why?

Was the white wine aged in stainless steel?

Did the white wine undergo malolactic fermentation? (a secondary fermentation process)

Get to know the wine

Now that you know that it was all inspired by the grape stomping episode of “I love Lucy”, that grandpa fell into the first vat of wine, making it the best vintage, and that the wine region is known for its bold Pinot Noir, what next?

Ask questions about the different wines and vintages offered in the tasting room.

Which wines are single varietals?

Do you offer any blends?

What does each grape in the blend contribute to the finished wine(color, acidity, tannin, body, aroma, etc)?

Why does the {2016} vintage have a different flavor? Was there a drought, heavy rainfall, smoke taint, etc?

Wine and food pairings

Ask the staff about their favorite wines and food pairings as you taste their selection. They probably have their go-to’s for different holidays and events, and they may share some decadent recipes to try! Get some inspiration for your next dinner date. Or spice up that dinner for one and treat yourself!

I hope you find these questions/tips helpful and feel a little less overwhelmed next time you step into a tasting room. Just remember to relax and enjoy the experience. You don’t have to be the pro. That’s their job. ;)



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