There are more than 130 wineries in Missouri and they are all a little different. That's the beauty, right? Visiting a winery can be a truly fantastic experience, and one of the best parts is the wine tasting. However, if you're new to wine or just new to wineries, saddling up to a winery tasting bar can be intimidating. It doesn't have to be though. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of your Show Me wine experience.
If at all possible, plan your visit to Missouri wine country ahead of time. Spontaneity is great, but you run the risk of driving out to a winery only to find that it's closed for a special event or not opening for another 2 hours.
Call ahead for hours and tour schedules. Not all wineries offer tours, but if they do they're often on a schedule. Tours are a great way to learn more about wine and history if that's what you're into.
Give advanced notice for large groups. Some wineries require advance notice, others don't, but all of them will appreciate the heads up.
Ask questions. Calling ahead gives you the opportunity to ask questions like whether or not the winery is family or pet friendly and if you can bring in food. (Picnic time!) Some wineries charge for tastings and tours, some don't. Feel free to ask. The more you know... as they say.
Dress appropriately. While most wineries offer outdoor (and some indoor) seating with unbelievable views, the tastings are usually done standing. Wear comfortable shoes. If you're touring a cellar, they can be a little on the cool side; consider bringing a sweater if you get cold easily.
Skip the smelly goods. Avoid wearing overly fragrant perfume or cologne as it can affect your ability to smell all the wonderful aromas in the wine.
Taste like a pro!
Have fun! The most important thing to remember about wine tastings is that they are supposed to be fun. There's no pressure to like all the wines or be able to taste all the flavor notes listed on the bottle. It's all about your experience.
The 5 S's of Wine Tasting: See; Swirl; Smell; Sip and Savor. This method will help you get the most out of your tasting. More details on the 5 S's here.
The best wine is the wine you like. You do not have to like everything you taste. Everyone's palate is different and that's totally fine. However, whether or not you like a wine doesn't determine if it is a good or bad wine. Keep in mind winemaking is not an easy, simple or quick process and the person behind the tasting bar is likely quite proud of their work. You don't have to like the wine(s), but avoid being insulting.
Write down what you like. As you go through the tasting, make note of your favorite wines. Or if you're attached to your phone like many of us, snap a quick pic of the bottle/label. This will help you decide which delicious, award-winning wines to take home with you.
Get rewarded for your visits as an MVP. Sign up for the Missouri Wine MVP rewards program. It's free to participate and you get points for every winery you visit. Then those points can be redeemed for fun rewards.
Savor the experience.
Don't try to squeeze too many winery tastings into a single day. There are 130+ wineries in the Show Me State and many are within close proximity of each other. It can be tempting to plan a whirlwind winery tour, but it's often better to take your time.
You're all set for winery tastings. See you in Missouri wine country!