From our perspective as wine lovers, there's no greater trip than visiting a wine domain. What better way to discover wine than tracing it back to its roots, and discovering why it tastes the way that it does. The opportunity to spend a moment getting to know the people who make the wine and who know it better than anyone else is not to be missed, especially considering the usually spectacular surrounding countryside; wine is rarely made in dull looking places!
Is it your first time organizing a visit to a wine domain? Don't worry, it's not as hard as you might think and we’re here to help you out so that you can spend your time enjoying the experience. Regardless of whether you're traveling alone or with a group, you should plan ahead. It's our experience that planning a wine trip is almost as much fun as doing it, so sit back and read our advice on how to best go about it!
Plan Ahead – Timings and Logistics
Arguably the most important part of any wine trip is planning your agenda. Contact the wineries ahead of time as showing up without an appointment is likely to end up in disappointment. Winemakers are busy people so make sure that they know you’re coming and ensure that the timings work.
Also, winemakers are people like you and me, so they do enjoy to take a rest during the weekends. If possible, try to fix your visit during the week. However, some châteaux are known for their oenotourism services and will offer different tour packages. Do check in advance. If you've done this part properly, the rest should fall into place quite nicely!
When should I visit?
We've learnt from experience that the best vineyard visits normally take place during the morning, whilst you and your host are fresh and full of energy. With all the best intentions in the world, it's hard to be energetic after a big, wine-soaked lunch in the sunshine!
The Visit – Wine Tasting Etiquette
The visit itself, hurrah! You're prepared, well rested and ready for a day of wine-tasting. There's not too much to think about here and it’s important to enjoy the experience. However, if you've ever wondered about wine-tasting etiquette, here are a few tips to set your mind at ease:
Drink vs Spitting?
Honestly, it's a much better idea to spit out the vast majority. The fun part in tasting is trying as many different wines as possible, which gets increasingly hard if you drink every single wine. Also, many little tastes add up. Needless to say, if you're driving it's absolutely imperative that you spit every drop! Don't worry if you've never spat out a wine before, it feels odd at first but you'll get used to it and there are usually spittoons in most tasting rooms. Remember that it’s a tasting room, not a bar.
What questions should I ask?
Absolutely anything you want to, don’t be shy! The whole purpose of a visit is to enjoy the experience, learn about wine and take something away with you. There aren't any silly questions in a winery and visitors will arrive with a wide range of different knowledge levels. Don't be intimidated, ask away!
How many wines can I taste?
As many as they're willing to let you. In Bordeaux, one or two wines are usually presented but in other regions, there can be many more. Consider a tasting as an opportunity to taste across as much of a producer’s range as possible, ask questions and hone your palate to your favourite wines. The more wines you can try, the better a taster you become (obviously we are talking about quality not quantity here!)
Post tasting – Buy your favourite wines!
Once you've finished your visit and you've tasted all the wines, it's time to pick your favourites and contact us to see if we have them available! This might save you some troubles with the customs and you won’t have to pay any transport fees. Give us a call and we’ll make sure to prepare your wines upon your return in Belgium.