Australia is famous for its vineyards and what comes out of them, but if you feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of rocking up to a cellar door and demanding a sample, here’s our lowdown on how to approach it and make the most of your wine tasting experience.
Firstly, plan your day. The magic number when it comes to visiting vineyards, is apparently 3-5. Do not try and visit more than 6, otherwise you will be on the winery equivalent of supermarket sweep. If you know your top 3 that you’d like to visit, map them out and see what else is en route.
Work out how you are going to get around the wineries. Designate a driver, book a wine tour, hire a bike, book a taxi, or keep it local and walk, but do not be tempted to drive yourself. Some vineyards are very spread out, so you will need a plan.
Dress appropriately. Possibly not in white if you plan to include red wine sampling towards the end of the day. It is also suggested that if you plan to take your wine tasting seriously, you should avoid wearing strong perfume. Half of the tasting is all about smell, after all.
Most wineries now charge a small fee for sampling a selection of wines. This fee is usually redeemable against any wines that you then purchase. This means that you need not feel awkward asking to sample, as it’s basically the same as purchasing a drink (or 6) at a bar. The added bonus is that your tasting host will be able to educate you and entertain you as you drink. Complimentary tastings are still available at some vineyards, just check the website of your preferred vineyard.
Allow time for lunch. Many wineries also have on site restaurants, and unless you are swishing and spitting, it’s best to line your stomach with some delicious local fare. If it’s a weekend or busy time of year, make sure you book a table in advance. Some vineyards also offer a cheese platter or snacks to accompany your tasting, but it’s not always promoted, just ask your host.
If you’re tasting with a view to buy, it might be worth looking like a geek and taking some notes. It is hard enough to remember what you liked about individual wines when you are completely sober, let alone when you are on your sixth winery.
Use this as an opportunity to try something new. Whatever your usual tipple, this is a great chance to explore new wines of every varietal without committing to an entire glass.
Finally, a word from the wise. Try not to get too drunk and fall over. Maybe spit out any wines that you don’t like and moderate your drinking. Please spare a thought for the host of your wine tasting, and your head the following morning.