Maybe you are asking yourself "You need to prepare to go wine tasting? Really?" And, the answer is absolutely, positively, yes! That is, if you want to have an enjoyable experience.
As mentioned last time, do your homework and pick a small region to visit, choose 3-4 wineries in close proximity, and do a little research about them on-line. Especially look up the days and hours they are open. Finding the tasting room door locked is not fun; take it from experience.
Before you set out, check winery websites, Groupon and, if you are staying in a hotel, check with the front desk. There are wine coupons to be had. You'll find everything from complimentary tastings, 2-for-1 tastings, and discounts on wine purchases. And, if you happen be going to Sonoma, in Northern California, take your Visa Signature Card. It gets you complimentary tastings and discounts at more than 60 wineries in the area. See the Visa Signature Card website for a complete listing of wineries with this offer.
Then there's food. Ensure you eat a meal before heading out to taste wines. Each winery will usually offer five or more wines to taste. With a one ounce 'taste' of each, you can end up drinking the equivalent of one or more glasses of wine (a typical glass of wine is 5 ounces). Or you may choose to spit or dump, but we'll address that another time. Also, pack a lunch. Many wineries have picnic grounds that you can use. I'd recommend visiting one winery, finding a good place for a picnic, then moving on to the next winery. And you should also have snacks in between winery visits. Crackers, cheeses, nuts, mild dried meats, nothing spicy. Oh, and don't chew gum or eat mints in between wine tastings. They really throw off your pallet. And, hydrate! You need to be drinking the equivalent of a bottle of water with every winery stop.
Finally, along with your cooler full of lunch and snack items, take another cooler along. You'll need it for safely protecting any bottles you purchase along the way. Never leave a bottle of wine sitting in the car or trunk unprotected. It will bake!
Whew! That's a bunch of things to think about! But, you'll have a much better wine tasting experience with proper preparation. Next time we'll get into what goes on in the tasting room. Until then, Cheers!