Napa Valley Wine Tasting
“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.” -Robert Mondavi, founder of Robert Mondavi Winery, the first major winery built in Napa Valley in the post-Prohibition era
A visit to Napa Valley is a glimpse of this passion…this lifestyle of winemakers and wine enthusiasts. This land where wine is a way of life. People travel from all over the world to experience this.
But what is a wine tasting experience like? What should you expect when you go Napa wine tasting? Start by expecting very high quality Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux style blends. While Cab is King in Napa Valley, you will also find exceptional Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. You may be searching for old-world style wines, or be interested in trying the latest trends in the Valley; either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Along with tasting exceptional blends, there are a few things you should know about Napa Valley wine tasting. The vintners and winery staff (who are often family members) are excited to share their wines with you. Each winery has a story of how it has evolved, why specific grapes grow best in its area, and the types of wines that are produced.
In Napa, there is a lot to taste and a lot to learn. You may be a history guru who loves hearing about the early development of the Valley. Or maybe you are interested in the science of winemaking. Perhaps your sole purpose is to simply enjoy fabulous wines. Keep in mind, while the winery staff is proudly sharing their wine and culture with you, it’s equally important to be respectful during your visit.
Wine Tasting Etiquette
Every tasting room in Napa Valley is a little different. However, the etiquette remains the same, and much of it is common sense. Make a reservation beforehand if the winery requires one (Napa Valley wine tasting tours will do this for you). Wear comfortable yet classy clothing. Avoid perfume or heavy cologne; they could affect the subtle aromas of the wine. Feel free to split the wine tasting with a companion, this is widely accepted and a great way to pace your drinking. Turn your cell phone off!
When tasting wines, you should go in order from the lighter (white) wines to the heavier (reds). Try to always hold the glass by its stem; inhale deeply before tastings; and swirl the wine in your mouth before swallowing it. This will ensure that it has covered all areas, as different parts of your mouth pick up different flavors/textures. Make sure to use the spittoons (buckets) if you need to. Drink plenty of water and eat during the day as well. Typically, visitors will stop at 3-4 wineries during a day and have lunch in between.
If you do choose to purchase wine, your tasting fees (normally $15-$30) at some wineries will be waived or reduced. You may also want to hear about the wine clubs that can get you large discounts on your purchases if you join, or any special events coming up.
We hope that you enjoy your Napa wine tasting experience to the fullest!