So, because I am a big-shot wine writer — I mean, I probably have up to 12 readers now, including my mom if “NCIS: Los Angeles” isn’t on — I did some wine-tasting on vacation.
OK, that sounds like I’ve done something rare, like use a turn signal or not chant "Ref, you suck" during a Miami Heat game. I haven’t. I taste wine on vacation all the time, or at least when I’m in places that grow and make drinkable wine. Which seems to be everywhere in the country these days, except maybe North Dakota and for all I know they have hardcore viticulturists all over Fargo.
So based on my recent experiences in Arizona — yes, they grow and make wine in Arizona, and yes, it’s good, and yes, you should try it — here is some advice on how you should behave at a wine tasting.
▪ You can and should swirl the wine around in the glass before you taste it and all that, but don’t make a lengthy production out of it, otherwise everyone’s going to think you’re a showoff and secretly begin to loathe you.
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▪ Don’t keep bragging about that time you tried Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux. Maybe — and here’s a wild idea — learn a little about the region you’re actually in.
▪ You don’t have to finish the samples you don’t like. Really! You can just pour it out and move on. I know it runs counterintuitive to your usual desires, but a tasting isn’t happy hour at Flanigan’s.
▪ Solicit recommendations from your server. Ask questions about the wine and pay attention to the answers. Even if you barely know a malbec from a mourvèdre, displaying interest, being friendly and showing yourself to be an enthusiastic wine consumer may pay off. Our knowledgeable server at Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, Arizona, noted that I really liked a red blend that used five percent of the unusual grape counoise, which earned me a taste of the 2015 Counoise House Mountain Vineyard (pronounced “coon-whaz” or “-whah”). Which tasted like what the seraphim drink, lots of berry, almost a rose but with more muscle. I heard harp music with every sip. Unfortunately, tasting this wine led to a lot of begging on my part to purchase a glass, which was not a problem, and then a bottle, which was — bottles were for wine club members only.
▪ If the wines are good and you like the idea of new and unfamiliar wines flowing to your front door throughout the year, consider joining the wine club.
▪ If you’re visiting more than one vineyard, pick a designated driver. Buy that person a bottle of the best wine you taste as a thank you for driving your drunk ass around.
▪ You don’t have to finish all the wine. Seriously.