Wine Bits: Broadening Your Tasting Experience

This ‘Wine Bits’ post was written by ‘Dad’ Wolfe for Two Dancing Buckeyes.


How do you try different wines, especially ones with which you may be totally unfamiliar, without the risk of getting something you don’t like and spending a lot of money in the search?  I’m going to tell you about three ways, which are great for the experienced wine-drinker, as well as the novice.

First of all, visits to wineries are a good way to taste a variety of wines.  Winery visits can be very interesting experiences.  Wineries vary greatly from very simple to very elaborate, so keep an open mind.  Most will offer small tastings at a very nominal price.  If you taste something you like, make a note of it and buy a bottle, if you wish.  Many wineries will offer light snacks to full meals.  Many also have gift stores which enable you to become more familiar with the range of wine supplies that are available.  Sometimes, the winery will have a pre-set group of tastings (usually 4 to 6), known as a flight, often three whites and three reds.  This is a very good way to experience a range of wines.  The only drawback is that all the wines are from the same winery.  The solution is to visit other wineries.  Sometimes an area or state wine association will sponsor the visiting of a number of wineries, within reasonable proximity to each other.  This is sometimes referred to as a “wine trail.”  The trails usually have a theme and involve appetizers, tastings and a gift at each winery, for a blanket price.  I have done such trails several times and have found them to be very enjoyable and reasonably priced (eg. $45.00 per couple to visit fourteen wineries over two, two-day weekends).  This way I become aware of what the wineries have to offer and have found a number that I wish to visit again, such as for dinner and musical entertainment.  A great way to spend a day.

A similar way to expand your tasting experience at a reasonable price is visiting wine bars, if you are fortunate enough to have any in your area.  I recently visited one, nearby, and found it very enjoyable.  It had a nice atmosphere, offered some excellent appetizer plates for a reasonable price and had several different six-wine flights on the menu.  The great feature of this is that the flights are planned to fit together in general categories and include wines from different wineries all around the world.  I tried the “South American” tour and discovered a wonderful malbec.  I bought a bottle to take home and it was sold at retail price, not the higher restaurant price, and cost only $10.00.  I must get more of it.  This is the kind of wine that I refer to as a good value—it tastes good and the price is good.  The wine was Trivento Reserve Malbec.  It is described as a powerful mix of typical red fruits like plum and cherry with vanilla hints from the oak. It is from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  Some excellent wines are produced in South America, and this is just one example.

A third way to taste a wide variety of wines are wine festivals.  These events are usually in the nature of a one or two day activity, including a variety of wineries and often food and entertainment.  Most times, for a set admission price for the day, you may avail yourself of numerous tastings.  If you want to relax with some food and enjoy the entertainment, you can purchase of glass of a wine that you may particularly like.

These are several ways to taste a wide variety of wines at a reasonable price.  Enjoy the journey.

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