Golden rules for wine tasting

How to get the most out of your wine tasting experience without being "that person"

It’s finally here, your first wine tour! You’ve eaten a big breakfast, you’re well caffeinated and hydrated, dressed in layers, and have on sensible shoes! You’ve done everything in your power to ensure that 6:30 pm dinner reservation doesn’t go to waste.

Now comes the best part enjoying the wine. Here at Next Adventure we pride ourselves on being respectful hosts, sometimes we find ourselves with less than perfect tasters, we’ve got the 4-1-1 on wine tasting etiquette and we’re here to make sure that your tasting experience is fun for you, and a good experience for your tasting hosts as well!

While minding your manners may come naturally to some, it may be daunting to others who may not go wine tasting regularly. It’s still a good idea to keep apprised of what is considered rude, distasteful (no punt intended) and downright illegal!.

Try not to show off: Even in you’re a level III Sommelier, it’s always a good idea to keep your massive knowledge of wine to yourself when it comes to the everyday wine tour. While your tasting host is likely very invested in learning as much about his/ her winery as possible, it’s important to keep in mind that it may not be their lifelong passion. Many tasting hosts are local residents who are enjoy wine, and the many lifestyle benefits of working in a low-stress environment. While they may not have the knowledge or tools that you have, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions! Your tasting host is here to teach you about their wine and should be able to answer most questions about the wine making process and the winery itself; it doesn’t mean they are all going to be connoisseurs.

Pour it out: Five wines, times about an ounce and a half, yep that’s a glass to a glass and a half of wine at each winery. It adds up! You should never hesitate to dump a wine that maybe isn’t for you. Not a Chardonnay fan? Take a sip anyhow! After all, Chardonnay might be your favorite varietal, you just may not have found the perfect one yet. While we do recommend at least trying every wine that’s offered, that doesn’t mean you have to finish the entire pour. Spitting is socially acceptable and your tasting host knows that wine is subjective. No dump bucket in sight? Grab a water cup to dump in, or ask your host!

Don’t wear cologne or perfume: Just don’t do it. So much of wine tasting is about scent and even if your favorite fragrance doesn’t offend you, it could completely ruin the experience for your neighbors and fellow tasters!

Revisit one wine if appropriate: Revisit is not an excuse to get free wine. It’s intended to let you really get a feel for a specific wine that you might be interested in purchasing. As an industry insider, I am reminded of a recent experience where a driver was overheard telling his group to “be sure to ask to revisit” in order to get the most out of their experience. There is nothing more frustrating for a tasting host that an inebriated customer. Even if you mind your p’s and q’s while intoxicated, it’s still considered in ‘pour’ taste to ask for more than what is included in the tasting.

Buy, don’t squabble: Buying wine is the main purpose behind wine tasting. It is the foundation on what being able to taste was built on. While buying isn’t a must, it is definitely appreciated. While it isn’t necessary to buy at each winery, you should try to go home with at least a few bottles. That being said there is no room for discussion when it comes to wine prices. Bottle cost and discounts should be disclosed via your tasting notes/ sheets and are absolutely non negotiable. Many wineries offer discounts if you join their wine club. The best way to enjoy your favorite wines is to join the wine club! Many wineries have wine clubs that range from 8 - 12 bottles per year. If you can’t finish 8 - 12 bottles in a year, we’ll be more than glad to help you; when we’re not driving of course!

Don’t ask for wines that aren’t on the flight: Do ask your tasting host if they have anything else open that you might enjoy. Sometimes wineries open special bottles for club members, big buyers, etc… if they happen to have a reserve wine open, it doesn’t hurt to ask to try a little. Do be sure not to press the issue though. If a tasting host says no, understand that they too have a boss and don’t enjoy saying no as much as you don’t like hearing it.

Should you tip? That all depends: While some wineries may ask if you’d like to leave a tip after a purchase; some might have a jar on the counter that you’re welcome to add to. Our rules for tipping include ensuring that the person who hosted delivered a solid experience. After all, tipping should always be a reward for exceptional service. Same goes for wineries, if someone knocks your socks off, let them know. There is no discount for great service, and tasting attendants and tour hosts always appreciate a reward for a job well done!

Never pour your own wine: There is no quicker way to abruptly end a wine tour than to get caught grabbing the bottle to help yourself. Not only is this illegal, it’s the ultimate rude behavior. Even if the tasting host isn’t looking, there is never an excuse to help yourself to wine.

Enjoy yourself. Don’t get too inebriated: Wine tours are all about the experience, if at any point during the tour you feel yourself having TOO much fun, there is nothing wrong with abstaining with the rest of the flight. You may be having a great time but nobody wants to be hungover while on vacation!

While there are plenty more rules for wine tasting, this should start you down a great path for your first tasting experience. If you need more advice on how to act like a lady, or gentleman while tasting, be sure to ask what is acceptable. Your winery representatives will thank you!

Helping your wedding guests make the most of their time in Santa Barbara Wine Country!

Helping your wedding guests make the most of their time in Santa Barbara Wine Country!

As the RSVP’s for your special day roll in, the excitement builds more and more day by day. Your venue is perfect, the dress is the one you’ve always dreamed of, best of all you will soon be surrounded by all your favorite people! As the big day draws near your starting to notice a trend… everyone is using your big day as an excuse to have a little more fun. The wedding isn’t until Saturday but it’s becoming more evident that a good majority of your guests are coming in as early as Wednesday. Rightfully so, Santa Barbara Wine Country weddings are the perfect reason to give yourself a break from the mundane. Arriving a few days early is not uncommon for wedding guests and we’re here to help take the guesswork out of making your guests make the most of your destination wedding. Best of all, we take care of all the details including helping them pick up the tab.

Midweek Wine Tours

Weekday wine tours are a great way to see the countryside without all the weekend crowds. Our Classic California Wine Tour last 6-7 hours and include three stops at the best of the best wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, a gourmet picnic lunch, and tasting fee’s are included for just $125/ person (21+ event). We’ll help your guests embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure through Santa Barbara's acclaimed wine country! Our wine tour packages combine friendly & knowledgeable local tour guides with some of the regions most exquisite wines. Your friends and family will revel in awe-inspiring views California’s Central Coast from the comfort of one of our luxurious shuttles, while you unwind and enjoy a carefree visit to one of California's most unparalleled wine regions.

Exploring the cocktail & cuisine scene in Santa Ynez & Santa Barbara

Popularity surrounding the food and cocktail scene along the Central Coast has been booming for years. We’ll help your guests explore the Central Coast on a deeper level with our Progressive Cocktail & Cuisine Tour. We take the guesswork out of enjoying Santa Barbara County's burgeoning food & wine scene! See what the buzz is all about while enjoying lively concoctions, yummy finger foods & like-minded company. We reserve the best tables in advance and offer pickups from most Santa Barbara County lodging properties. Available for just $199/ person (21+ event)

Sunset Cruise in the Santa Barbara Harbor

Nothing says wedding season like blue skies, late afternoons, cocktails and sunsets. Picture enjoying all this and more aboard a sailboat while enjoying the horizon line off Santa Barbara’s picturesque coastline. We’ve partnered with Double Dolphin Charters to provide hotel to dock transportation aboard the ‘Double Dolphin’. Pack your deck shoes, sunscreen and binoculars and set sail on the open sea for a one-of-a-kind evening adventure aboard the Central Coast’s most popular sailing charter. With a 41 passenger capacity there’s plenty of room for a large party. On board, you will find beer, wine, champagne, water, sodas, and gourmet snacks. There are two restrooms on board for your convenience. Starting at just $99/ person (21+ event).

Book Now