- Don’t wear white or silk or anything else that will spoil your day if wine splashes on it. If you ignore this advice (and even if you don’t), consider carrying a small bottle of Wine Away (this miracle product that dissolves wine stains, especially when applied immediately, is available at local wine stores).
- Drink water to stay hydrated, especially if it’s hot outside.
- Don’t try to taste every wine. Ask the winery representative what their flagship wine is and try that. If you like it, you might enjoy that winemaker’s other wines. But be judicious or you’ll miss other wineries.
- Experiment. Try varietals or unusual blends that you might not typically buy at the store or order in a restaurant.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions, but also be considerate of fellow tasters who may be waiting for the attention of the wine pourer.
- Don’t feel compelled to drink every drop of wine poured into your glass. The dump bucket is there for a reason. If you are particularly concerned about offending the winery representative, dump the remaining wine in a bucket at the next table you visit.
- Carry your own private “spit cup” (opaque, please) and empty it frequently in the dump buckets. Yes, you’ve seen professional wine experts spit directly in a bucket, but it’s really uncouth in most settings (including this). And if you accidentally spit on someone, well, you’d better have good health insurance.
- Think about pairing food tastings with appropriate wines.
- Remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
- Use the Tasting Notes section of your AFW program to jot down notes about wines you particularly like. With all the wines you’ll be tasting, you may not remember later which winery’s pinot noir rocked your world.
- Relax. It’s not a race. Take wine-tasting breaks: Watch a chef demonstration, listen to the live music, view the artworks, buy a cookbook and get it signed, and visit with exhibitors.
- If you feel you’ve had too much to drink at the end of the day, don’t drive.
The Art of Food & Wine Palm Desert
November 6-9, 2008