What is Barrel Tasting?

An awesome two-weekend event (Friday-Sunday) in March every year, where wineries bring out barrels of un-finished wine for people to taste and {usually} purchase at discounted prices. The event also helps to teach people about the process of winemaking and the differences in tasting un-finished wine in the barrel and finished wine in the bottle. Many times this is the one and only time you can taste a whole portfolio of wines at the same time.

Here are my top 10 tips for Barrel Tasting {Like a Pro}

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Visit the Wine Road Website here, and think about the types of wines you love to drink. If you love Pinot Noir, wineries in the Russian River Valley are likely to have more barrels of Pinot or if you prefer Zinfandel or Cabernet then Dry Creek or Alexander Valley might be the direction you want to go. You have 3 days of Barrel Tasting so try and explore areas that you may have never been and/or don’t frequent.

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Taste the futures, but then go and taste the finished product in the tasting room to compare the taste of each. 

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Taste same varietals side-by-side - this is such a fun way to see true differences in wines that may be labeled the same but in fact, have completely different flavor profiles due to where they were grown (terroir) or how long they were in the barrel. 

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It is totally okay to spit - if you don’t like the wine, spit it out (into a spit cup, of course). Almost all wineries will have spit cups. Grab one, it will be your best friend, and will allow you to better be able to enjoy other wines you like.

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Wear comfortable clothing or if you have a dress that you’ve been dying to wear…. bring a sweater or a jacket with you to wear while inside each winery. Most barrel tasting is done in a cellar where it is cold. 

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Wine Away (you can find it on Amazon here) - This comes in a small purse-size option and is the cheapest way to (more likely than not) get a red wine stain out of your clothing. While you may or may not stain your clothing, it is always a good security blanket to have in case an incident does happen. (also note that Wine Away should be sprayed on ASAP after the incident and follow the directions on the bottle for washing your clothing).

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Bring a good camera or phone with a good camera - No one wants to miss out on that instagrammable moment!

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Pack snacks - not all wineries will have food so make sure to bring along your favorite wine-drinking snacks to keep you energized during the day.

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Keep a tasting journal - If you love wine, pick up a journal (something small that can fit in your purse or back pocket), and bring it with you when you taste. Then, when you find wines you like, jott down the name of the wine, the varietal, and a few simple words to describe what you liked about it. Then, when you go out to eat or to another event, you can ask for wines with those flavor profiles. It’s a fun way to get to know your palate.

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 Be Safe, Have Fun, and Make Sure You Have a DD!