5 Things To Do While Wine Tasting

5 Things To Do While Wine Tasting

I consider myself a bit of a wino. Not that I drink a bottle a day, but I possess a decent share of knowledge and have been to many wine tastings, including a few in Italy and Germany. I’ve made a few friends who work in tasting rooms and am often appalled by the stories they share. It is for those folks that I jump up onto my soapbox today!

Hey millennials: Get your nose out of your smartphone and into your glass. The folks who work in the tasting room are trying to share their knowledge with you about their wines. Give them your attention so they can get through it and move on to assist other customers. When you are focused on your phone and not the wine discussion you are wasting other people’s time. It’s rude!

Try everything. When you are out on a wine tasting, don’t skip around the recommended tasting menu. That menu was set up by people who know a lot more about wines than you do. Just follow along and take each ensuing swirl and sip in order. Who knows, you may just find something new that you love.

Cleanse your palate between tastes. Go ahead and take a swig of water, a piece of bread, or whatever they offer. Each new wine will taste much better if you no longer have the remaining taste of the last wine still in your mouth.

Wine tasting is not the same as beer funnels. It’s true that touring wineries for the day with a group of friends is meant to be entertaining, but try and show a little decorum. It your goal for the day is to get hammered, stick to your local pub. If you are tasting wines, use the experience to broaden your knowledge about wines. There are other people in the winery hoping to enjoy their wine tasting experience as well. If you know your group will be raucous, find a winery with a lively reputation. Hazlitt Winery in Hector, NY is a perfect example.

Tip the person who leads your wine tasting. It always amazes me that people “forget” to tip after a wine tasting. We tip bartenders and all they do is pour us a couple of drinks. These folks give us an education with every sample. The money you pay for the tasting does not include a tip, so don’t be a cheapskate. A dollar or two in tips at each winery will land you in the poor house.

Care to add any wine tasting tips of your own? I encourage you to leave a comment and join in the discussion!

 

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Top 10 Summer Beverages

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Even though June 21 did not officially kick off summer, at my house, it’s summer once the fresh mint is ready to cut and stuff in a glass! My mint is ready for harvesting and my automatic ice maker is churning out cubes on a regular basis come 5 o’clock. If you are entertaining guests this summer on the back deck, I hope one or two of these drinks will add a pleasant kick to your menu!

Rather than working my way from least favorite to most favorite, I thought I would start out with the ones I like the most at the top of my list! Enjoy.

1. Pimms
First produced back in 1823, Pimms was first introduced to me several years ago by a colleague from London. Thank you Kathryn, wherever you are now! It has a sweet, slightly spicy aroma. I serve it exactly as directed on the back of the bottle.

1/4 cup Pimms
3/4 cups fizzy lemonade
1 sprig fresh mint
2-3 slices fresh cucumber
1 sliced strawberry
1 slice fresh orange
1 tall glass and fresh ice

2. Bobby Flay’s Red Sangria
I’ve tried a number of sangria recipes over the years and I always come back to this one from Chef Bobby Flay. I keep the key ingredients in my pantry at all times. It is a beverage my dinner guests ask for now. I switch up the fruits a bit depending upon what I have handy, but the base remains the same. Give it a try the next time you cook out!

3. Chef Roblé’s Cucumber Lemonade
This one is alcohol-free and may sound a little wonky. But trust me. You will want to add this drink to your summertime rotation. For some reason the cucumber adds this subtle refreshing flavor to homemade lemonade that is unbelievable. Buy yourself a citrus squeezer and give this recipe a try!

4. Citrus Slush
This was a popular drink back in the ’70s. Hard to believe it is still around, but it is one of my summer party favorites. It packs a hidden punch since it tastes like a fizzy fruit drink, so watch out if you are sipping these poolside! You will be the hit of the day if you take this as your dish to pass at the next neighborhood cookout, I promise!

5. Margaritas
A summer list of adult beverages would not be complete without the Margarita! The nice thing about the Bon Appétit article I linked to above is that they break down the ingredients with a bit more detail.

6. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiris

My neighbor always made this version growing up. Of course I was of legal age the first time I ever tried them!

1 box frozen strawberries (or 1/2 bag)
1 small can frozen limeade
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup strawberry liquor
2 cups ice

Blend well. If you do not like seeds in your drinks, use a high quality blender like a Vitamix.

7. Mojito
If you find yourself grilling up some fajitas or roasting a cuban-spiced pork roast, pull out a few more sprigs of mint and mix up a pitcher of Cuban Mojitos. This refreshing summer beverage was originally “consumed for medical purposes!” Who am I to argue with the healing properties of a refreshing summer concoction?!?

8. Mimosa
You cannot go wrong with a good, old-fashioned and simple-to-make mimosa! Mix orange juice and champagne for a refreshing summer drink any time of the day. I like one part OJ to 3 parts bubbly, but feel free to use your own favorite ratio. Some people shy away from using good champagne for this cocktail, but I disagree. While I would not recommend diluting a Dom Perignon with anything, I never go for the bargain bin sparkling wine either.

9. Gin and Tonic
Like the mimosa above, the key to a decent gin & tonic is use of a decent gin. I recommend you give Fords Gin or Anchor Old Tom a try. Using a rocks glass, stir about 2 ounces gin with a splash of tonic, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over ice. Substitute the tonic with Sprite or 7-Up and you’ve got yourself a Lime Rickey.

10. Trappistes Rochefort Beer
Brewed by the Trappist Monks inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy, Belgium, these guys know how to make awesome beer. After all, they’ve been brewing it since 1595 so they’ve had a lot of practice! If you like a full bodied and delicious beer, give this one a try. Choose between the 6, 8, or 10, depending upon the percentage of alcohol you prefer. I’d say give the 8 a try if you can find it. It’s my favorite!

It turns out, it’s not easy narrowing this list of my favorite summer drinks down to just 10. I hope you’ll help me out here folks by adding links to your faves in the comments section!