15 Tasting Room Tips for Napa Novices

It goes without saying that one of the most popular activities for guests at RiverPointe Napa Valley is wine tasting. We’re located at the start of the Silverado Trail, just a short drive from hundreds of wineries.

If you don’t have much experience with wine, you may feel a little intimidated by the prospect of visiting a tasting room. But wine tasting is actually very approachable.

Each tasting includes four or five wines, which are presented in a particular order to highlight particular characteristics. Each pour is about 1.5 ounces, and you can easily discard the wine you don’t drink without offending anyone.


Get the Most from Your Visit

For the best experience, plan ahead and know a little bit about what to expect.

  1. Call in Advance. Many wineries require reservations, and printed guides are often out of date.
  2. Go Early. You’ll have plenty of time for three or four tastings if you start before lunch. Napa wineries begin closing around 5:00 p.m.
  3. Take Your Time. Plan on spending at least an hour at each tasting room.
  4. Ask Questions. Tasting room staff are a wealth of knowledge. Not sure how to taste wine? Wondering where to go next? Ask!
  5. Avoid Fragrances. For your sake and the sake of those around you, skip the scented lotion, perfume, and cologne. Even lipstick can affect your palate!
  6. Eat Before You Go. Some wineries offer small baskets of crackers, but these are just to cleanse your palate in between wines.
  7. Dress Well But Comfortably. You may end up standing at a bar or taking a tour of the grounds, so comfortable shoes are a must.
  8. Buy a Discount Card. Several websites offer discount cards, which give you deals at participating wineries.
  9. Bring a Cooler. Keep your bottles cool and secure in the back of your vehicle by bringing along a foam cooler with ice.
  10. Try Something New. You may discover that the varietal you absolutely hated at home knocks your socks off in Napa!


Tasting Room Etiquette

The Napa wine community is very inviting. Just be aware of some of the potential faux pas.

  1. Leave the Grapes on the Vine. If you really want to try a wine grape, ask the staff to help you.
  2. It’s Okay to Skip a Wine. Simply put your hand over your glass to indicate you’d like to pass. Don’t publicly announce your distaste for a particular type of wine.
  3. Let the Staff Pour for You. This should be a leisurely, measured affair.
  4. You Don’t Need to Buy a Bottle. Napa wineries charge around $20 per tasting, so there’s no need to purchase a bottle just to be polite.
  5. Embrace Moderation. The goal of wine tasting is to learn about and experience the different wines, so drink lots of water and pace yourself!


For more advice, check out 7 Wine Tasting Tips from Jenna at This Is My Happiness. Jenna is a travel blogger from Northern California who knows Napa inside and out!



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