7 Wine Walk Tips
Tis the season for wine, who am I kidding...there is never NOT a season suited for wine. There's a wine for every season, occasion, day, hour, minute, etc. However, with warmer weather there are these wine crawls, ahem, I mean wine walks (keep it classy...this is wine after all), that start popping up in downtowns and city centers all over the place.
What is a wine walk?
In the general sense, it is an event, usually held by a chamber of commerce or downtown association, that aims to expose local businesses, by way of fermented grape juice. There are usually different "stations" for wine, food, or sometimes both. Typically very popular, participants visit each station (or business) and, usually in exchange for tasting tickets, receive pours of wine. Events like these help build community and highlight the local businesses, all facilitated by the nectar of the gods: wine.
So without further ado, my top 7 tips for enjoying your wine walk experience:
1. Every Wine Walk is Different/Curb Your Expectations
Wine Walks are a great way to discover different businesses of your community. Many are held in downtown locations across the country spanning anywhere between one long strip to a few streets and blocks. As you can imagine, the availability and resources of each city's wine walk is different.
Participating Wineries: In wine walks in close proximity to wine growing regions, you can expect there to be some crossover, local wineries coming and pouring their wines.
Donations: Many times wines are donated, where the planners can't control the wines they get. Unless a wine enthusiast is pouring your wine, there may not be a lot of information about what you're tasting.
BYOW - Buy Your Own Wine: Another common style is having participating businesses purchase their own wines to pour, which can be a costly expense.
My Tip: A great way to determine quality of the walk is finding out who is involved in the planning. For example, if a wine retail store is involved enough to associate themselves with the wines of the event, risking their own reputation, then expect to find some quality out there.
2. What to Wear to a Wine Walk? - Dress Accordingly
This is a walk, expect to walk for your food and your wine! Wear shoes you would be comfortable standing in lines, crossing streets, navigating through different types of pavement, etc. Additionally, take note of the weather; February wine walks might be a touch chilly, whereas walks in September, depending where you are, can be either experiencing the last heat of summer or the first wisps of fall. Dress accordingly and pack light…you will likely be carrying your food, wine, and any giveaways and purchases you pick up along the way.
3. Treat it Like Disneyland
Wine walks don't usually last more than a few hours, and, depending on the size and number of businesses, there may be quite a few spots to taste at. Treat this like you would a trip to Disneyland: dress accordingly, get there early, and make a game plan. If you want to make the most of your time at the wine walk and taste certain wines, map your route, which wine or food stops are you most interested in trying? There's no guarantee that those wines or foods will be there by the later part of the evening. Leave time to check in and relax, but realize that the businesses may not be ready to serve until the appointed time. I've been on the vendor/business side of this style of event and there are factors that are out of our control so that food/wine are not available until the appointed time.
Wine is fun, it brings people together and loosens people up…but it also dehydrates the body. Nothing will put a damper on your wine walk experience like the effects of dehydration. Well planned wine walks will have water stations throughout the event…but just as you lead a horse to water doesn't mean he'll drink it.
5. Take pictures
Commemorate the event! Take pictures of you and your party and fun things that you see. Also, if you happen to find a wine that you like, taking a picture of that bottle is wildly more accurate than trying to remember what the wine looked and tasted like, especially when you're "tasting" wines in rapid succession. #picsoritdidnthappen
6. Don't Drink and Drive
This one is obvious, but with the number of alternative means of transportation - public and private, there is no acceptable excuse to drink and drive. Make arrangements beforehand with a designated driver, or make sure you have someone to pick you up, use Uber or Lyft to make sure that not only you get home safely, but that people in your party also get home safe. It's just not worth it. Have fun, but be responsible for everyone involved. PSA over.
7. Enjoy the Evening and Community
Most of the time wine walks are events that celebrate and highlight the community. It's a way to explore the businesses in your area that you've never been to before or never knew existed. There's usually a local charity attached to the wine walk that benefits from ticket sales. There can be exhibitors, vendors, musicians, and artists throughout the wine walk -- making for a wonderful evening out. With the amount of people in the same area and with the wine flowing, people are having a good time --the area just buzzes with energy and merriment, take a moment to take it all in and just enjoy the experience brought on by sippin somm wine.