I don't live in Napa Valley, but I do live in Maryland, which hosts 7 wine trails throughout the state. Earlier this month, me and the blogger girls (Macy, Megan and Laura) plus our men embarked on an ambitious day of wine + mead tasting, frolicking in the western Maryland and trying not to make fools of ourselves. We succeeded at all but the last one.
Along the way, we got to talk to the owners of some of the wineries and they had some really awesome tips for wine tastings!
Also: Check out Megan's recap of our Maryland Wine Crawl HERE!
1. It's okay if you don't know anything about wine.
I'll be honest. Wine isn't really my thing. Don't get me wrong-- I really like wine. I'm just more of a margarita lady, myself. And quite honestly, I don't know the first darn thing about wine.
But the owner of the Red Heifer Winery in Smithsburg, Maryland say that they love the people who don't know anything about wine! So don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Even if you don't know anything about wine, it's totally okay to go on a wine tasting!
2. Be opened minded.
Don't go into it thinking, "I only like white wines". Try a little bit of everything-- that's what a wine tasting is all about. When you don't open yourself to new experiences, you'll miss out.
For example, at Orchid Cellar in Middletown, MD, we try a chile pepper mead-- something I knew I wouldn't like. But I wound up trying it and it actually was pretty good!
3. Don't be a jerk.
The owners of Red Heifer Winery told us that wine tasting is like going over to a friend's house. If you wouldn't eat their lasagna and say, "Ugh, this is awful!" to your host's face...then don't do that at a wine tasting. It's okay if you don't like the wine you're tasting, but just quietly dump it and if asked, you can let them know it wasn't your favorite. The owners stressed how much love, time and energy goes into making their wines and it's hurtful when patrons are jerks.
4. Don't bring outside alcohol.
None of us had any clue about this, since we were on a wine tour and drinking in between wineries. Brandon had accidentally brought a beer on property to one of the wineries and the owners explained that due to licensing and legalities, the winery could have lost their business and license if an inspector had seen Brandon bringing outside alcohol on property. Nothing would have happened to Brandon, but the winery would have been punished. So be mindful!
5. Use the dump bucket.
You don't have to drink everything. There is no expectation to drink everything put in front of you. In fact, the owners don't like drunk customers-- it is wasting everyone's time to be sloppy. So, know yourself and don't be afraid to use the dump bucket. That's what it's there for!
6. Request their wine at restaurants + liquor stores.
The best way to support local wineries is to go to your favorite restaurants and liquor stores and request their wine. This is more effective than wineries themselves trying to get their wines noticed. If restaurants and liquor stores know that their paying customers want a specific type of wine.