Wine tastings are a great way to spend a day, either hanging out with your significant other or friends. If you are planning an outing and have never experienced wine tastings before, you may wonder how much time to allocate in your agenda.
How long do wine tastings last?
Every wine tasting experience is different and can be tailored for your preferences. You should assume that a tasting would take, on average, about thirty to forty-five minutes. If you are pressed for time, you can squeeze one in for less, or if you want to relax and take your time, you might be able to spend all day.
Here are a few ways to experience a wine tasting and some tips to look out for when planning your next wine tasting adventure.
What to Expect at a Wine Tasting
Wine tasting experiences may vary throughout the world, or even by region. Most wine tastings on the West Coast will offer visitors the chance to experience a tasting “flight.” A flight will typically include several small pours of different styles of wine that the winery produces. The size of the pour may be about one to two ounces unless the wine steward has a heavy, or generous, hand. The number of pours may vary between wineries, some may have just three or four, while others serve five or six. However, you aren’t typically limited to just one flight. You can get a second flight, or even split one or two flights with a friend so that you can try additional wines.
Depending on the wines that the winery produces, there may be multiple flight options. Smaller wineries may have a smaller selection than much larger, or popular, wineries. Some might have a wine variety they specialize in, such as Pinot Noirs, where they offer a flight to compare the differences across a single varietal. These types of flights allow you to understand how different factors impact the taste of a style of wine. Some wineries may produce many types of wine and therefore offer options for you to try all of the varieties. This allows you to experiment to know what wines you might enjoy more than others. Flights may even be offered for special wines, sometimes called the wineries “reserve” options, that aren’t mass distributed or commonly released.
As you build your agenda, research wineries and vineyards in a certain area. You may check to see if the winery requires reservations or if they accept walk-ins. Many wineries function similar to a bar or restaurant, where you can ask for a table or stand at a bar. The wine steward will provide you with flight options or a wine list for you to choose from. Most stewards will even help describe the wines or help you pick out a flight if you are still learning, especially when the venue isn’t too busy.
Typically, during a flight, the steward will start with the lightest or most delicate option. These wines have flavors and aromas that could easily be masked or lost if you had eaten or drank something prior to your wine tasting. Sometimes, neutral foods, such as crackers, may be provided to help cleanse the palette to get rid of any residue in the mouth that might prevent you from experiencing each wine to the fullest.
Any medium-bodied wines would follow the lightest wines, with the fullest bodied, sweetest, or highest alcohol wines being served at the end of the tasting. Along the way, the steward will typically describe notes that you might expect to taste in the wine or provide background on where the grapes were grown, the origin of the name of the wine, or any other fun information to help broaden your experience.
After the tasting is over, you may be able to select a second flight to try, or even order full glasses of wine. Most wineries also sell bottles of the wines they serve so that you can bring home bottles of your favorite from the flight.
Other Fun Types of Wine Tastings
While enjoying a flight of wine at a winery might be the most common way to experience a wine tasting, some wineries offer unique experiences. Look for some of these ideas:
Wine Tasting and Tour: Some wineries might offer a chance to try some of their vintages while also taking a tour of their facilities. These types of fours might focus on the grapes they grow, how they care for the wines, showing how they’re harvested, or even the winemaking process itself. These tours might go through the vineyards, show fermentation barrels, or their cellars. This is a great way to learn the process and gain a deeper appreciation for the craft.
Wine Tasting and Dinner: A great way to experience any wine is to pair it with food or snacks that help bring out the flavor notes in the wine. Some wineries offer snacks, such as charcuterie boards, desserts, such as chocolate, or even three-course meals, to provide your with the fullest experience of their wines.
Winery Resorts: In more popular tourist destinations, such as Napa Valley, some wineries operate like full-service resorts, including hotels, restaurants, pools, and spas. A great getaway weekend may include booking a night, sitting by the pool, and trying the wines are your own leisure while taking in other entertainment. Some of these larger wineries may also have movie theaters, art galleries, or even shopping, to partake in while you sip.
Wine Tasting Picnic: Similar to wine tasting and tour options, some wine tasting options include having a picnic somewhere on the property of the vineyard. In this unique experience, wine tasters might have a pavilion, or even just a picnic blanket, to share some sips and snacks while enjoying the scenery.
We hope this explanation helped inspire you to try your first wine tasting experience, or encourages you to try unique options for your next wine tasting adventure!