The Local Pour: The Dos and Don’ts of Wine and Food Festivals

The start of spring marks an important time for wine aficionados in Southern Oregon— festival season has begun!  With the warmer weather, come wine and food shows throughout Oregon where visitors can taste, eat and drink some of the region’s best products.  Whether it is a weekend long event like The Oregon Chocolate Festival or A Taste of Ashland, or a smaller evening show or fundraising event, here are a few tips to get the most out of your wine festival experience.

DO – Have a plan
Festivals can be overwhelming with so many wineries packed into a small space.  Find out which wineries are in attendance by visiting the festival’s website prior to the event and planning out which wines you absolutely must try.  In a perfect world, you would start with white wines, then red wines, and finish with dessert wines, to help delay palate fatigue.  Try to work your way around the room trying white wines, and then moving to, and sticking with, red wines.

DON’T – Drink too much
Wine festivals are not the places to get smashed.  Most people paid good money to come to the show and they do not want to watch you stagger around the event or find you asleep in the bathroom.  Winery representatives will also appreciate if you are interested in what they are pouring, and will feel offended if thrust your glass in their face, saying, “I don’t care, fill it with anything.”   That said wine and food shows can be a nice place to enjoy a tipple or two with friends in a safe, well-lit environment.  Please remember to take a cab home or have a designated driver on hand.

DO – Ask questions
Winery staff in the booths are there to answer questions and help you find something you will like.  There are no stupid questions in wine, so do not be afraid to ask if they have a style of wine you like, and anything else you might want to know.  Even if a winery is not pouring your favorite type of wine, they should be able to suggest a similar style.  Wine festivals are the perfect opportunity to try a wide variety of wines and find a new favorite.

DON’T – Monopolize the booth
Winery personnel would like nothing more than to discuss their wines and the industry with interested tasters all day, but with some festivals seeing hundreds of people in just a few hours, they cannot spend all their time with just one guest.  Let the person pour you a sample and give it a swirl, sniff and taste.  Feel free to discuss your perception of the wine with the people in the booth but if it is busy, you may have to step back to allow other people to taste and you can discuss the wine with your friends privately.

To find out about the next wine and food festival and other wine events in southern Oregon, visit localwineevents.com.