Tyler Russell knows his wine, and it’s a good thing he does. Tyler Russell also loves his wine, which is apparent by the twinkle in his eye when he speaks of it. Mr. Russell is a Tasting Room Associate at Dover Canyon Winery, in Paso Robles, California, and he takes wine tasting seriouslyÃ¢Â?Â¦just not *too* seriously. Russell has some pointers for prospective wine tasters. Whether you’re a boxed wine drinker or a complete “cork dork”, Russell offers a valuable perspective from behind the tasting room counter.
Know your Winery
According to their website, “Dover Canyon is an artisanal microwinery in Paso Robles, California, specializing in Zinfandel and Syrah.” Russell refers to Dover Canyon as “A more boutique-y choice in wineries.” At Dover, you won’t find an elaborate restaurant, an extensive winery tour schedule or droves of patrons filling the tasting room. Dover’s tasting room is small, quaint, and has just enough room for Russell and his boisterous personality. The patrons are very interested in what Russell has to say, and seem genuinely intrigued by every word that comes out of his mouth. His passion for the winery (and the wine they create) is contagious. If quaint, intimate, and “boutique-y” is what you’re interested in, a winery such as Dover Canyon is the place for you. Russell also suggests Four Vines Winery, (http://www.fourvines.com/) and Windward vineyard, especially if you are a Pinot Noir lover. If you’re on the hunt-down for a more commercial wine tasting experience, do some research on some of the larger, more publicized wineries. Russell suggests researching wineries such as Justin, Tobin James, or Robert Hall. Check out www.winecountrygetaways.com for a detailed explanation of some of the best wineries in the Paso Robles area.
Take your Time
“There’s no reason to be a Rockstar, running from winery to winery to see how drunk you can get.” Tyler says. Russell encourages tasters to take their time and savor what each winery has to offer. He continues, “European tastings can go on for hours on end. Taking your time and savoring your wine selections is the meaning of wine consumption. Better to enjoy three wineries than rush through six.”
Pack a Lunch
With lush rolling hills, swaying trees, and picnic tables at nearly every winery, Russell says wineries in Paso Robles are encouraging tasters to bring a picnic and enjoy the scenery. “We try to make it so our patrons are comfortable and really want to enjoy their time around our vines. It makes us happy to see people relaxing with their lunches under our trees.” Russell recommends packing foods that compliment your wine tasting experience: Cheeses, fruits, whole wheat crackers, and even some tasty chocolates. “Spoil yourselves!” he says. “Give yourself the full experience.”
Buy a Bottle
Although you may pay between three and ten dollars for a tasting, Russell suggests using proper etiquette and purchasing a bottle of wine from each winery you visit. Most wineries offer a bottle in the $15.00 range, and will certainly appreciate your support of their winery. If this is not in your budget, consider some of the other items that may be available in the tasting room, such as chocolates, olive oils or perhaps even the wine glass if it is not included with the tasting fee.
Mind your Manners!
Sure, wine tasting can be fun, but it needn’t be reckless. Consider the other patrons in the tasting room, and keep your composure. Although some see a wine tasting trip as a good opportunity to “get a bit tipsy”, most see it as a way to pay respect to beverage they take seriously. If “sipping and spitting” isn’t your style, consider “sipping and pouring” instead. Take a sip, evaluate the flavors in your mouth, and pour the rest out. Every Paso Robles winery should have a basin to pour your leftover wine into. Above all, be safe! You should always have a designated driver or other ride alternative when wine tasting. Russell says he is concerned with your behavior in the tasting room, but more concerned with your safety. “Have fun”, he says. “But use common sense too.”