Napa Valley is the largest, most beautiful and most copious wine-producing regions in the United States. Wine Country, as Napa Valley, California is dubiously known. It has a reputation as being an adult or couple’s destination, but it could not be further than the truth. Napa Valley is family friendly with plentiful attractions, activities and both family and adult excitement. Vineyard grapes of many varieties sweep across sprawling vistas with some of most breathtaking and awe-inspiring views, especially in the spring when the mustard seeds are in bloom and colorful foliage and forestry adorn the land. The intense, brightly colored yellow blooms seem to endlessly blanket rolling vistas punctuated with some 400 wineries, from Medieval- to contemporary-style. The spectacular, trendy atmosphere of this California social centerpiece place to sit, sip and socialize has drawn the attention of wine lovers, but also motorcyclists and bicyclists who adore pedaling around the region, as well many golf aficionados, mountain adventure lovers, families and couples of all traveler types, and those who seriously enjoy nature and the great outdoors. If you think you have to be a wine lover and know how to wine taste, you are sorely mistaken. That’s part of the fun and exciting Napa Valley experience as you tour wineries and learn how to wine taste from serious professional and winemakers. But if you’re a wine-tasting newbie who wants to be a few steps ahead before visiting this Wine Country on your Best Vacations Ever getaway to paradise, here are a few wine-tasting tips to get your taste buds tingling:
SETTING THE STAGE – If you are a newbie to wine tasting, and serious about the experience, you may want to join a group of people on a wine tasting excursion, some that winery hop to show of the many varieties of wines and wineries. It’s fun to hear what other people have to say and advise. Otherwise you can drive, walk, pedal or Segway to many wineries, and you will have plenty of professional instruction onsite each winery. Plus, do not limit yourself to just one. There are a grand variety of wineries and different varietals (types of grapes), and you can see some of the smallest to the grandest, most magnificently architected and designed wineries, some that even look like a Medieval castle, and some with lusciously landscaped grounds with brilliant fountains, sculptures and outdoor café-style seating among scenic mountain settings.
The wine tasting process:
STEP 1: ENVIRONMENT – Make sure that you are in the right environment, like a wine tasting section of a winery yet still be cautious of fragrances or odors that will negatively affect your experience. Things that can affect your first steps of wine tasting can include too much noise, heavy crowds, strong perfume or smells of detergent, even lingering pet odors can all have a negative or altering impact on the wine’s flavor. Get as far away as you can from odors and amid neutralized, fresh air.
STEP 2: TEMPERATURE – The temperature of the wine can also have an impact on your wine-tasting “impressions.” So will the age of the wine and any residual flavors from whatever else you have been eating or drinking. Try to have a neutral, cleansed pallet free of other foods or leftover tastes that can change the flavor of the wine. Neutralize your wine-tasting conditions as much as possible so you just taste the wine, and nothing else that could alter its true flavor. If a wine is served too cold, warm it with your hands by cupping the bowl of the stemware. If a glass seems musty, give it a quick rinse with wine, never water, by swirling it around to coat and cover all sides of the glass. This process is called ”conditioning” the glass. But if the glass really looks dirty or smells bad, do NOT use it and ask for a new glass.
STEP 3: SIGHT EVALUATION – Your wine glass should be about one-third full. You want to use your visual sense to look for certain things and in certain ways. With a straight angle view, you look straight down into the glass to get an idea of color depth, and then hold the glass to the light. Tilt the glass so that in rolls to the edges of the so you can see the wine’s complete color range, not just the dark center, especially with dark wines like Cabernets and Merlots. Held in and viewing it from the light allows you to see how clear the wine and spot any fermentation or other problems. Tilting the glass gives you clues about the wine’s age and weight. You’ll learn how to spot when a wine is past its prime with sight evaluations.
STEP 4: SWIRLING – A critical well-known and critical step. Give the glass of wine a good swirl while it’s on a flat surface, especially if a newbie. Freestyle open-air swirling is only recommended if an experienced wine taster. Notice if the wine forms “legs” or “tears” that run down the sides of the glass. Swirling is when you hear the terms “legs and “tears,” such as “the wine has good legs.” Wines that have good legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content. Basically it indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not have “good legs.” Your wine-tasting professional will demonstrate and explain these terms in detail during your wine-tasting experience.
STEP 5: SNIFFING – Another well-known and critical step after a good swirl is to take a good sniff of the wine. This does not mean you have to stick your nose in the glass. Instead your nose hovers over the glass of wine, close enough to get the full aroma and experiences that make it an important. Some people move it around slowly in circles to help enhance the aromas. Often closing your eyes helps you try to identify the certain fruits, florals, herbs and other aromas used in the wine. It should be a pleasant experience for the sniffing senses, If it’s not, there may be something wrong with a wine or its passed its prime or too old. Not, there are many guides to help you train your sniffing sense to identify key wine fragrances – both good and bad. You can also learn in a guide how to follow all the wine-tasting steps and identify any flaws in the wine.
STEP 6: TASTING – Finally, tasting is the part you’ve been waiting and salivating for after all the other sensory experiences. Take a decent sip, not big gulp. Then suckle it, kind of like pulling it through a straw. Or find a polite and much more minimal type of gurgling or gentle move the wine around in your with with some air. Suckle on it as if sipping it through a straw – but don’t slurp. You will not feel weird because everyone around you will be doing the same thing. So follow suit of the pros. Suckling aerates the wine and moves the taste and aromas around you mouth and aromas throughout your nose. You will taste all the aromas you sniffed and have a much more full-bodied experience. Full-bodied is actually another wine-tasting term used to describe a wine. You’re essentially picking up where your sniffing left off, checking your accuracy, comparing earlier notes and finding new flavors you may have missed. The next part gets a little too far ahead for newbies, you’ll also use all your new skills and your taste buds to determine if the wine is “balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved and complete.” It’s a much more complex part of wine tasting that needs professional or learned development.
Enjoying a Full-Bodied Napa Valley Experience with BVE
Our taste buds detect sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Those abilities help determine if a wine is “balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved and complete,” as mentioned above. Wine professionals at the wineries will also teach you how to complete the process with the final assessments and you get to enjoy the regal experiences and even a good meal at some wineries set mountainside. But right now, you also need to be thinking about getting a taste of everything Napa Valley has to offer on your Best Vacations Ever promotional vacation provided by 30-plus year travel leader Preferred Guest Resorts (PGR). In fact, you and everyone in your family can satisfy every craving you have for outdoor adventure, excitement, attractions, activities, fine wines, nightlife and entertainment in this unique and majestic California region nestled amid the west coast of Unites States. Call the PGR Travel Center today at 800-656-2780 and get ready for the lowest cost yet most amazing vacation of a lifetime with a Best Vacations Ever promotional vacation packages provided by PGR. Please also visit, bestvacationsever.com to learn more about Napa Valley, with it’s Must-Do and Fast Fact pages, and download educational videos about the legitimacy, extreme affordability –typically with complimentary accommodations or other possible incentives– and the enhanced traveling mission of PGR and its Best Vacations Ever promotional vacation packages.
What tips do you have for first-time wine tasters to Napa Valley?