Wine-Tasting Season is Here!
Spring blends into summer with promises of wine touring and outdoor wine tasting. I remember when I first moved to the Okanagan as an adult, many, many bottles of wine ago. The person in charge of the tour was very knowledgeable and told us what we needed to know about the wine, but there was so much more he didn’t say.
I ended up with sore teeth and a headache after a hectic day of wine touring. I tried every kind of wine available at each of the eight wineries. At every one I swirled, sniffed and sipped, but I did not spit. By winery number seven my teeth felt funny, and by the eighth, they actually hurt, as did my head. I learned a lot of lessons that day, like to use the spit buckets and rinse with water after every wine sample.
Tour Earlier in the Day
Try to do your wine touring earlier in the day. The wineries won’t be as busy and you can take your time. I highly recommend no more than three or four wineries in a day. We have so many fabulous wineries in BC, you don’t want to forget which winery had the wines you loved.
Be honest when given a wine to taste. I remember taking my sister and her beau wine-tasting and he was shocked when I looked the server in the eye, shook my head and said, “I’m not fond of this one.” Then I poured the rest of the wine into the bucket and waited for the others to finish.
Wine tasting is a different experience for everyone. One person’s favourite wine may make another person cringe. Believe me, winemakers and tasting servers don’t care if you don’t like that particular wine. They understand that everyone’s tastes are different. What you don’t like, another person may love.
Try Favourites and Non-Favourites
There are nine geographical wine-growing regions in BC, and four sub-appellations in the Okanagan and one on Vancouver Island. This means there are just as many deviations in flavour profiles for specific types of wine as there are wineries!
Now I love a good Viognier, and years ago, I thought all Viognier tasted the same. I was very wrong. Even within the Okanagan, this wine can range from creamy vanilla and spice to tangerine, mango and honeysuckle. Each winery creates their wines with distinct flavour profiles because of where the grapes are grown and how the winemakers use them. I’ve since discovered I only like some Viogniers.
Another thing I’ve learned is to try wines I don’t like. In general, I’m not fond of Chardonnay. However, when I go wine-tasting, the first thing I ask is, “Do you have a Chardonnay?” I enquire about it because on several occasions I have been delighted to find a winery that makes Chardonnay in such a way that it makes my tastebuds very happy.
Chill Out With Rosé
Let’s not forget the wine of summer: Rosé. This wine is made with red wine grapes, pressed with the skin on. The skin is allowed to sit in the juice for two to 24 hours, then the skins are removed.
Rosé is tricky because too high or too low a temperature will make it taste very different. Red wines taste best between 15.5° and 20°C (60° to 68°F); whites between 7° and 13°C (44° to 55°F). Rosés taste best when chilled for 30 minutes to bring their temperature to between 10° and 15.5°C (50° to 60°F). It’s the perfect balance between red and white.
Finally, be sure to ask the wineries if they have any wines that are not available in stores. They usually do, and if you like them you can buy them at the winery, or sign up for their wine club to ensure you never miss a vintage.
However you decide to try BC wines, do so responsibly and don’t drink and drive. Use a designated driver or go with a tour company. You’ll have more fun without the responsibility of driving.