There's something wonderful about the idea of a wine tour - get a group of friends together, head off to a beautiful vineyard (don't forget the great Instagram shots!), get a little tipsy, and enjoy some great wines. It seems like a perfect day out... but where there's alcohol involved, there are lots of opportunities to make mistakes!
Wine tours can be a wonderful way to learn more about the wine of the region you are visiting, get some great views of the countryside, and explore local food and drink - but be prepared, and make sure that you get the best possible experience by not making any of these rookie mistakes your first time.
10 Pretending To Know Everything About Wine
Unless you are actually a trained sommelier, chances are you don't know more about wine than the people who literally make it (and spend their time teaching other people about it). Even if you are something of a wine snob, you probably still don't know more than the people at the winery about their specific wines. No one likes the obnoxious know it all on the tour group, so try and enjoy the chance to learn something new... and resist the urge to show off about everything you already know. After all, you didn't pay to come to a winery just to look good, did you?
9 Knocking It Back
Especially when the wine is delicious, and you are only getting a small amount, it can be tempting to just toss it back... but that's not the general idea. The idea is to savor the wine, to enjoy the aroma, to draw it across your tongue slowly and taste the layers of flavor, and to really enjoy all the notes that you can taste. Of course, if you feel pretentious or silly (or have no idea how to slurp it so that you can actually taste all those flavors) that brings us to the next point...
8 Being Too Shy To Ask Questions
If you know nothing about wine, this is the perfect opportunity to learn! You don't have to worry about asking silly questions, either - in a winery, you will be surrounded by people who love wine, and can't wait to share their knowledge with you. Wondering why people swirl their glass?
It's to look at the legs, and your guide will be more than happy to explain what legs are, and what it means for the taste. Want to ask if there is something sweeter, or why a wine is named the way it is, or why you can't smell 'nuances of toast'? Do it. Just be polite and ready to learn, and the staff will appreciate your curiosity.
7 Holding The Bowl
Swirling the glass isn't the only reason that you should always hold your wineglass by the stem (and why you likely won't find wineries with trendy stemless glasses). Holding the glass by the bowl will affect the temperature of the wine, thanks to the warmth of your hands, and this will affect the taste. Instead of cupping your wine glass, hold it gently by the stem while drinking - and don't worry if you aren't used to it at first. Practise makes perfect!
6 Not Taking Notes
No, we don't mean bringing a notepad and pencil and treating the tour like a university lecture - unless you want to, of course! But when you are going to be tasting multiple wines over the course of the day, you may find it hard to remember exactly which one it was that you really loved by the time you come to buy. If you really love a wine while tasting, make a note of which one it is, and then you can make sure you are taking home your favorites.
5 Not Making A Reservation
While many wineries run regular tours and don't require reservations for small groups, some prefer reservations for everyone, and most will prefer it if you have a large group of people with you. Call ahead, and make sure that you can be accommodated - even if a winery can squeeze in a bigger group at the last minute, if they know how many people are coming, they will be able to give you the best experience possible.
4 Being Pressured Into Buying Wine
While it's pretty standard to pick up at least a bottle or two to take home at the end of a tour, this is not required - especially if you weren't a huge fan of any of the wines! If you just want to get a bottle of your favorite, don't feel pressured into buying a huge amount - especially if you can't take it home in your suitcase.
Some wineries also offer wine clubs - which can be a great way to stock up if you host a lot of parties or have a wine cellar, but if that isn't what you are looking for, don't feel that you need to sign up.
3 Behaving Like You Are At The Bar
Yes, there is going to be wine, but no, this isn't a bar - and while you want to enjoy some time with friends, that doesn't mean that you should treat winery guides like bartenders, either. At wineries, the staff will be there to guide you through a tasting, talk to you about the wines, the grapes, and the process, and it's polite to make sure that you listen - and allow others to listen, too.
2 Getting Drunk
This goes hand in hand with remembering that a winery is not a bar! While most people enjoy getting a little tipsy on a wine tour, the idea shouldn't be to get wasted. Spit out a few glasses into the bucket provided, and make sure that you eat something ahead of time. Not only is it obnoxious to be the drunk person at the winery, but get too drunk and you won't even remember the wonderful experience - just the hangover the next day!
1 Not Having A Designated Driver
Finally, make sure that you can get back to the hotel safely. This should be a no-brainer, of course. Some wineries will have shuttle buses, which are a great option. However, if there is no service, make sure that taxis are available, or that you have a designated driver.