Solo Tasting

Tasting wine all by yourself isn’t that much fun.  There’s no one to exult with when you discover an unknown gem.  Or sneer at a loser.  Or just keep you company.  And wine tasting alone at home leads to all kinds of problems.  Still, there are times when you’re traveling alone and you’re in a place where vineyards are nearby.  In some cases, you may be in a place where you are already familiar with the wines, so passing up a tasting trip may be easy to accept.  But if you are in a distant, previously unvisited location you may feel that you simply must take advantage of the occasion.  So if you may be considering a solo wine tasting adventure, here are some things to consider.

Photo courtesy of Waiheke Island Tours

  • Try not to go alone.  On a business trip, there may be a client who would go with you.  Or a fellow conventioneer.  Or a relative you’ve been meaning to call anyway.  If you are organizing a meeting, you might add on a wine tasting day, for team-building purposes. Before you leave home, give some thought to who you might meet.  Only when you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities should you think of the logistics of tasting by yourself.
  • Take a tour.  We don’t often recommend wine tasting tours.  In general, they go to the wineries that are convenient, that allow large groups or are highly commercial.  Rarely will you encounter the top vineyards in the area you’re visiting.  But they know where they’re going and they do the driving.  If you have no particular knowledge of the region and its wines, everything you taste will be new to you anyway.  Tour companies rarely advertise where they stop, but if they do feature small groups (not a 50-passenger bus) and knowledgeable guides, they’re more likely to provide better quality.
  • Take a taxi.  You can ask a driver how much he would charge for an extended ride.  You probably want to have a map and choose a few wineries in advance, so the driver can know where you want to go.  In general, ask for a half-day price.  Even if you plan on being out for a day, it’s best to plan for a shorter trip and ask for more time than the reverse.  Either way, it can be expensive.  But getting behind the wheel yourself in an area unknown to you, with alcohol to be added, may not be any bargain.  You really don’t want to deal with foreign police or worse, be involved in an accident. 
  • Limit your consumption.  It’s best not to drink too much, no matter who’s driving.  Don’t embarrass yourself in front of a cabbie or a tour guide.  And if you decide to drive, prudence is a necessity.  So sip sparingly; don’t gulp.  Use the pour buckets.  Only ask to try wines you are more likely to enjoy rather than everything on the list.
  • Talk to the people you encounter.  It’s always more fun to share an experience, even if you’re sharing it with strangers.  Engage with the person serving you.  In most places, the servers speak at least some English, as is likely the case with the other passengers on the bus.  And if you want to get to where you want to go, make certain you can talk with the taxi driver.

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