What type of occasion allows you to view all the brilliant colors of fall, savor gourmet food and savory drink while prepping for the holidays as well as allowing you to enjoy the company of those you love? You guessed it - wine tasting!
While living just 40 miles away from Walla Walla Valley wine country for nearly seven years now, I have had the fortunate opportunity to visit at least 40 of the more than 100 wineries located in this wine region. While I have my favorites (see my list of recommendations), I’m always wanting to visit new wineries to see what is available. So this past weekend, as I mentioned, was spent being part of the Autumn Release weekend - tasting, contemplating, enjoying and conversing about all of the flavors, options and pairings that were available.
While some of you may live near wine country and some may live quite far away, I would like to encourage you to go wine tasting whenever you might have the chance if this post at all piques your curiosity. More than just tasting wine, it is an experience that fulfills so many curiosities and offers wonderful opportunities to cultivate the simply luxurious life you are creating for yourself.
Now I know not everyone is a wine drinker. However, I’ve taken one or two such friends along, and while they may not purchase any bottles, they will admit the experience was most pleasurable and the memories hard to forget.
Let’s get started. Below are 10 reasons to consider going wine tasting the next opportunity you get.
1. Ability to Taste Before You Buy
As someone who enjoys wine, one thing I appreciate about tasting prior to buying is that I know exactly whether or not I will enjoy the wine I’m paying for. While wines can range in price (Walla Walla Valley wines range from $14-$58 a bottle), Napa Valley and other wine regions can offer more expensive wines, so it’s comforting to know that your investment is worth the price.
2. Meet Fellow Wine Lovers
One of the best places to meet people who appreciate wine is to walk into a tasting room. Whether you prefer to go during the three major release weekends offered in Walla Walla Valley (Autumn Release, Holiday Barrel Tasting or Spring Release) when the crowds are much larger or a hand-picked weekend after making an appointment with your favorite wineries to receive more one-on-one time with the winemaker, you are certain to meet people who you have something in common with which always offers the opportunity for great conversations.
3. Stock up
Because I like to know what the wine will taste like before I uncork it, I prefer to use my wine tasting weekends for stocking up my wine rack and pantry. Whether it’s a half a case or a case, I try to keep in mind upcoming holiday events where I will want to bring a hostess gift, or serve at a dinner party, cocktail event, etc, as well as bottles to have on hand for simple week night dinners.
4. Choose a Wine Club to Join
If you are someone who regularly serves or drinks wine, a wine tasting weekend gives you the opportunity to taste wines from a variety of different wineries, and if you are so inclined, it might be a good idea to join one or more wine clubs. Why, you might be asking? If you are stocking up regularly, being a member of a wine club offers you discounts and insures you will be receiving a regular shipment (you usually are able to determine whether you want 3, 6 or more bottles of wine each time) at least two (sometimes three) times a year without having to make the trip each season if your schedule doesn’t allow. And just because you’re a member for a handful of years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind and stop so that you can become a member of other wineries that better fit your changing tastes or budget.
Also when you become part of wine clubs, you are invited to special tasting events that will offer more opportunities to congregate with fellow wine lovers and people in your community.
5. Talk to the Winemaker
If you are curious about wine, often the winemaker is available to talk to at wine tasting events. Don’t be shy. If you want to know more about the process, most often they are eager to talk about what they love to do – make fantastic wine.
6. Pair with Food – Notice the Difference
One of my favorite wineries to visit each fall and spring is Abeja. Why? For multiple reasons – the beautiful landscape (it’s also a bed and breakfast), the architecture and the food pairings they offer along with their wines. Often those who are just becoming introduced to wine are timid because they taste wine without pairing it with food. Trust me, the difference of pairing with the proper food is tremendous when done right, and another plus is that you can learn based on the caterer’s choices which wines and recipes you want to serve at your next dinner party to impress your guests.
7. Bask in Beauty of the Vineyards
As I mentioned about Abeja, while there are many tasting rooms in the town of Walla Walla, there are nearly as many wineries in the countryside and among the fields next to the vineyards that produce their grapes where you can go to not only taste, but enjoy the scenery. While I thoroughly love the spring release that is held during the first weekend of May, this year’s Autumn release gave it a good run for its money as the trees were turning, the vines were still green and the grounds were groomed still with touches of vegetation before winter arrived.
8. Day with Friends and Family
Wine tasting is something to enjoy with friends and/or family. Depending upon what you prefer, you may want to organize a large group of people to go with you, or you may just want to bring one of your loved ones. I have done both, and each have their benefits. Regardless, it is a time to enjoy each others’ company, conversation and wonderful new experiences.
9. Learn More About Wine
While I’ve been tasting and enjoying the wines of Walla Walla Valley for over six years, I’m always learning something. While I believe the old adage is true, “Drink what you like, like what you drink,” as you train your palette, you will come to recognize a quality wine. But even with that said, everyone has their own preferences. Whether you ask questions of the wine makers and/or staff or pick up their tasting sheets, be open to listening and testing your taste buds to see if they can pick up on that earthy, licorice, citrus or berry taste that they mention.
10. Support Local Vintners
While I thoroughly enjoyed tasting wines in France and wish I could have brought bottles home with me, I still prefer to support my local vintners. And since I have the opportunity to be in the proximity of so many talented wine makers, I try to take advantage of it as often as I can. What better way to support both your local economy and your taste buds?