Little Tiny Glasses and Common Sense


Wine tastings seem so simple. Just cruise along from winery to winery in a chartered air conditioned bus or limo and sample wines from the many Finger Lakes wineries. How hard could it be? Well, let's take a closer look.

The average wine tasting varies from winery to winery, but generally consists of 4 to 6 tastings of the wineries products. Each tasting ranges between .5 to .75 of an ounce of wine (some even more). Along your tour you will discover wines you will like and some you will hate. Don't worry, everybody does. You may even discover a wine that will become your new "best friend".

Before we go any further lets take a look at those "little tiny glasses" of wine. I have heard dozens of first time tasters say "is that all we get?" when they get their very first tasting. I admit it does seem like a small bit of wine, but lets look at the big picture.

First of all, the alcohol level in wine is relatively high and ranges somewhere between 12% to 16% by volume, (while your average beer is about 3.5% to 9% alcohol by volume.) Now that we understand that, lets do some math ( you didn't know there was going to be a test did you? )

If we average, say, four .75 ounce tastings at each winery, and we spend the day visiting say, 12 wineries, the 48 "little tiny glasses " of wine we just had adds up to over 36 ounces. The average full sized glass of wine is about 5- 6 ounces so if you look at it in terms of the total volume, the tastings you just drank were equal to 5-6 glasses of wine or about a bottle...by yourself. Ah, but we aren't done yet. The equation really gets more complicated because on most wine tours the tasters commonly break open a few bottles aboard the charter bus to sip between wineries (note: common sense tends to leave you early while on a wine tour). The total amount consumed will vary person to person, but you should be starting to get the idea.

As you can see wine touring isn't as simple as it looks. Even the wisest of tasters can easily over do it. So if you are going on a wine tour allow me to suggest a few simple rules (developed from past experiences):

1) DO NOT DRIVE. That is what charter buses and limos are for. There are a lot of them around and they know where each of the wineries on your itinerary are and will get you there and back safely. Besides, it's more fun to talk with your friends and look at the beautiful Finger Lakes scenery surrounding you anyways. If you want to drive, a Designated Driver is a must. Many wineries will offer free soft drinks or water to Designated Drivers so don't forget to ask.

2) Make Reservations. If you are planning a group trip of 10 or more, call each winery on your itinerary and let them know approximately when you are coming. Wineries can handle you if they know you are coming, but it gets extremely hectic and totally unmanageable when buses just "show up" (especially when 3 or 4 show up at the same time). The wineries will know when they are going to have other buses there and might make a suggestion for a good time for you to come when they can serve you properly. Most will even arrange a private bar for your group to taste at so you can all be together if you help them out by making reservations.

3) Limit your intake between wineries. You will feel a lot better the next day, your pets won't hide from you for days, and you may even have your new "best friend" left over to share with friends. Take a winery off here and there along the way and just drink water to stay hydrated (you'll feel a lot better in the morning).

4) Eat Food and Drink Water. Have a nice big breakfast the day of the tour. Also bring along some snacks to munch on and water to drink along the way. If you don't, make sure to grab some food at one of the wineries. Many wineries have fabulous food offerings ranging from wood fired pizzas, panninis, sandwiches, as well as full lunches. Whatever it is... eat something!

5) Tip your winery servers. These people live on your tips, and really have to put up with some amazing foolishness (please don't add to it ). They are very knowledgeable and can be a lot of fun. They go out of their way to make your stop an enjoyable experience so drop a dollar or two into their tip jars at each winery. Thank you on their behalf.

6) Finally, remember what your parents taught you about respect. If someone in your group is starting to get out of line, try to remind them of that fact. Please don't let them ruin the other visitors tasting experiences. Remember, this is supposed to be fun for everyone.

Touring the Finger Lakes wineries can be a fabulous experience to have with friends and family. Take time to learn about what it is you like, and what you hate about certain wines. Ask questions of the servers (that's what they are there for). Learn the difference between a sweet and dry wine. Ask what tannins are and how they affect the taste of wine. If you do these things you will leave the tour with a much better understanding of wine, and a lot of great memories. That is of course, if you use common sense and remember to respect those "little tiny glasses". Enjoy your stay in the Finger Lakes.

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