A day out to a winery can be the most relaxing and relished experience that a friend, partner or work can take you to. It is a time to share, experience, saviour and talk about. Winery's over time have become the showman, letting you graze on their wines and some have expanded to opening restaurants and featuring only their wines with local produce! Simply chic and an immersive experience.
Here are a few pointers when stepping through the cellar door.
1. Before arriving understand your alcohol limit. Going to too many winery's will become a blur and your tongue will need a holiday. Perhaps eat first before trying a bevvy of drinks. Do a good amount of research on the winery's that appeal to you. If you are only a white wine drinker then search for a recommended matching winery. If you are coming with friends then discuss your likes and dislikes and map out the winery's that everyone will be able to enjoy.
2. Dress appropriately with a little glam. Winery regions are located in cool climates. Recommended are flat shoes or wedges, as the winery grounds tend to be gravel, compacted soil or grass. Bigger and popular cellar doors will have paving stones or concrete. Leave perfumes and aftershaves at home, it will affect your smelling senses come wine tasting. Lathering your lips with lipstick can also affect the senses and leave lipstick marks on the glass that may not easily wash off.
3. Upon arriving, smile and greet the staff, they will understand straight away that you're ready to taste their products.
If there is a large crowd at the tastings, don't push in to get to the front. Go out and walk about the grounds of the winery, take selfies in the vineyard or even move onto the next winery on your map. Pushing yourself to the front will be noticed, in Australia, you may not be served.
4. The winery may offer free tastings or you may have to pay a small fee, that fee could be waived if you eat later at their in-house restaurant. When you are offered a tasting, go with the tasting order, (or indicate which wines you only like or really want to test). The tasting order will start with whites, rosé to reds and end with fortified wines. You may be given a sheet to mark the wines you enjoyed or didn't quite like. You can either swallow the wine or there will be a spittoon. Don't hesitate to use the spittoon, it is there for a good reason. You may want to have a tissue in readiness for you after you have spat the excess wine.
6. Use the see, swirl, smell, sip and savour techniques. Look and take note of how the wine looks, its colour, its thick or thinness. Close your eyes and identify what you are smelling and tasting. Feel the wine in your mouth. Notice how it tastes when you take the first sip and how it tastes when it languishes for 30-60 seconds in your mouth. Does it appeal to you? What foods could you match it with? Think about the area the winery is in... Do you taste the sea in it? Or possibly you taste eucalyptus laden bushlands? Let the creative side of your mind wander.
7. Be curious, be interested. Staff want to interact with you, they want to tell you the winery's history, their best wines, the types of vines that their wine is made from, the wine process and more. It will put the server at ease and you may be offered a great deal at the end of your stay!
8. It is also a time to step right outside your comfort zone. Why not try different wines than you're used to? You might be delighted and surprised and come home with a new match to your chicken vindaloo, beef shank or blue vein cheese.
9. Using the tasting area as a local bar or pub, could be frowned upon. The tasting area is provided for trying the wines, on a short term basis. If you want to stay longer, then use their restaurant, book a private room, or take your glass to the garden or balcony area.
10. When you are tasting, a good server will automatically change your wine glass once you have finished the white wines before you go onto red wine, fortified or sparkling. If they don't, then ask for a change of wine glasses. Rinsing it out with water, will tend to leave a pool of water in your glass, diluting the wine your tasting.