Friday, January 04, 2008

How to get the VIP Treatment at your next Napa Winetasting

It’s a brand new year and time to launch Foodie Friday 2008! Actually this is more of a wino Friday entry, but still, I hope it adds to your sensual enjoyment.

My husband and I love drinking good wine (not necessarily expensive wine, but tasty, interesting wine) and we have an annual custom of going up to Napa Valley in February to taste the good stuff they’re pouring at Heitz. It’s the only time of year you can taste their lovely Martha’s Vineyard and Bella Oaks Cabs and tasting is always free! We try to go up to the Wine Country a few other times during the year as well, but February is quiet and the guys at the tasting bars are especially talkative, so you learn a lot.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned something else, too. If you do one simple thing, you’re very likely to have the winery pourers pull out a special bottle and give you an extra wine to taste, often a top-of-the-line treat, and always on the house.

Here’s what you do: spit.

Not in his face. You spit out the wines you taste. First stick your nose in the glass and breathe in long and deep. Then roll a sip around in your mouth, get all the flavor and spit. Either into the spit jar, or we take our own plastic cups (not clear, you can see the icky saliva-bubbly rejected wine) which is more discreet than shooting a fountain of liquid across the table into the communal spittoon. If you find a wine you really like, you can swallow a bit of that. I always allow myself that indulgence!

So, the guys at the bar see you doing this and they know you’re at least semi-serious about wine, a step above the bus tours. You chat with them a bit. Ask with genuine interest about the recent harvest and the current wines on sale and when the optimum time is to drink them. Confess you’re one of those crazy people who keep wine for a number of years and don’t just drink it all right away. Then watch them reach behind the counter for a little something special they’d like you to try.

It doesn’t happen at every winery, but at least once or twice on every visit. It's fun and you get to taste some nice stuff. Plus, if you spit, you don’t have to worry about driving and you can always buy a bottle of your favorite, drinkable-today wine to have back at the B&B. Not a bad way to sample the VIP treatment--and it's free.

Happy Quaffing!

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