Visiting cellar doors is an excellent opportunity to get to know a region and expand your wine appreciation- and your wine collection! Here are some pointers:
Do some research
The guy who rocks up to a Tasmanian cellar door and asks ‘Got any port?’ looks like a bit of a dill. At least google which varieties a region is known for.
If there aren’t varieties you usually enjoy, keep an open mind- you don’t want to miss out on something good!
A bit more research will reveal which producers are known for which wines. Pick a couple of cellar doors you know will have wines that you are interested in trying and gather some word of mouth recommendations along the way.
If you are there to taste wine, taste the wine. If you are planning to visit afew cellar doors, perhaps you might decide to taste whites only or reds only so your palate and mind stay fresh.
Unless the cellar door is really busy and the servers need time to attend to other customers, don’t wander around the cellar door in between pours. Don’t start flipping through the Wine Dogs book, do that after the tasting. Don’t be on your phone. You can post the delightful images of your cellar door experience to social media after the tasting.
Taste the wine
Show some respect for the wine in the glass. Have a sniff. Look at the colour.
You’ll look so much more sophisticated if you hold the glass by the stem, not the bowl.
Swirl the wine in the glass- put the glass on the bar and swirl it if you don’t feel confident swirling.
Take a small sip and hold the wine in your mouth for afew seconds. Don’t try spitting unless you’ve practiced at home first.
Ask questions about the wine, particularly if its a variety you're unfamiliar with.: 'What are typical characters of this wine?', 'How is this made?', 'What food would pair well with this wine?' Cellar door staff usually love it when visitors ask questions, it makes their job easier.
Be respectful of the hospitality
While you might think that visiting afew cellar doors and posting some Instagram pics constitutes a ‘wine experience’, the people who run the cellar doors are there to sell wine. When you buy from a cellar door, all the profit from that wine goes straight in the producer’s pocket. No middleman, no distribution costs, no money going to a big supermarket.
No, you don’t have to buy wine from every cellar door, but be respectful of the hospitality you’ve been shown. If you don’t intend to buy anything, be brief and polite. Don’t lie and say you’ll order when you get home. At least give some feedback about the wine ('Its not to my taste' or 'Its beyond my budget'), join a mailing list or leave afew dollars as a tip.
Almost all wineries in Tasmania are small businesses who employ local people and support rural and regional economies. Buying from a cellar door is a great way to buy a delicious wine with a story and a sense of place, a great way to build a collection of wines that you will cherish and enjoy because you know where the wine came from.