Wine Tasting Tips

It's a good idea to plan to visit several wineries as every wine-tasting experience offered is different. With so many distinctive viticultural areas within the Napa Valley, one can easily taste many of the world's best varietials and winemaking style without leaving our region. Listed below are five basic types of tasting experiences. The experience will vary in style from winery to winery!

Wine Bar Tasting

The most common tasting experience is a Wine Bar Tasting. You step up to the bar where typically a list of wines being poured is displayed. Expect to pay a tasting fee between $10–$40. Some tasting bars will offer you the option to taste a library or reserve wine. Exercising this option increases the fee, but will allow you to taste very unique, old or rare wines.

Sit Down Tasting

A Sit Down Tasting usually requires an appointment, and there may be a slightly higher fee than a wine bar fee. Seated in an elegant room, you are poured several wines by your winery host. Expect your host to describe the unique characteristics of each wine and how it was made.

Table Service Tasting

A Table Service Tasting, popular at sparkling wine facilities, is a tasting experience where you are seated at a table and the tastings are brought to you.

Walk Around Tasting

A Walk Around Tasting is a combination of a tour and a tasting. Your host brings along several bottles of wine on your tour, and may take you to a garden area of the winery to pour the first round. Then you move to another place within the winery to sample the next wine. This experience continues until all the wines are tasted.

Barrel Tasting

Another popular tasting experience that can be part of a tour or a Walk Around is a Barrel Tasting. Your guide takes a "wine thief,” a special siphon placed into a hole in the top of a barrel to extract tasting samples of  a maturing wine. The sample allows you to taste what the wine is like in the middle of developing its full potential.

Why make an appointment?

Some wineries are so small that they need to know when you are coming so someone will be there to greet you.  Other wineries have permit restrictions that limit the number of guests that can visit each day.  Others have sit-down tastings that start and end at specific times.  It's always a good idea to schedule your appointments well in advance of your visit becuase some of the more popular wineries fill up their appointments weeks in advance.

Napa Valley's Top Tastes

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