If you're visiting Portugal, one of the must-do's is definitely a wine tour. Portugal is a world-renowned wine country and one the best wine travel destinations in the world, so don't leave our country without experiencing a wine tasting tour.
Sure if you're not used to wine tastings or you're not a connoisseur, it can be a little bit intimidating. You'll wonder if the guides will use a lot of technical wine vocabulary or whether there are people in your group that knows each and every lit bit of information that is to know about wine. But don't worry if you're not a master in wine flavours and varietals, you can still enjoy - most of the times, even more! - your wine experience.
1. Ask wine producers or guides for more information
Don't be afraid to ask. Guided tours are exactly the place where you can question and learn more about wine-making and how to taste wine. You may not identify every flavour and technical characteristics of the wine, but you will know if you enjoy it or not. And if you do, ask more about that wine, variety and process. Whether you're in a tour with a guide or at a farm with the actual owners and wine producers, everyone will be pleased to share their knowledge with you. After all it is their passion, and everyone loves to discuss and talk about what they enjoy. So don't be shy, everyone will appreciate your interest.
2. Take notes about your favourite wines
If you like a wine that you taste, after some tastings you won't know anymore which wine was that that made you crave for more. So if you want to go home and order that favourite wine at a restaurant (or avoid the ones you really didn't like) take some little notes so that you won't forget what pleased you the most.
3. Ask for recommendations of the best restaurants nearby
Asking questions to the local guides and producers is not only important at the tour but also for other activities you can make nearby. Use their knowledge of the region to ask for recommendations for having a great meal. The best way to enjoy a sip of wine is with delicious food. So if you're tour doesn't include regional food tastings, lunch or dinner, sure they will recommend you the best restaurants in the region.
4. Take your time between one wine tasting and the other
If you're planning to have many visits in one day, make sure there is a certain time gap between them. Wine tasting can be very fun and it's an activity where you should take your time to enjoy and not simply rush from one winery to the other. You will also find very friendly guides, wine makers and farm owners that will engage in happy conversations about wine and their products, so expect a visit to last more than an hour.
5. Don't be afraid to taste new wines
Don't just stick to the wines you already know. Since you're at a winery, try some new, unfamiliar flavours and varietals. If you stick to the grapes you already know and enjoy, maybe you'll be missing out on some amazing regional varieties that you didn't even know they existed. If you favour red, take a sip also on the white, if you prefer the sweet ones, don't leave without tasting the drier ones. Don't go home with any regrets because it's probable that you won't be back anytime soon (but we hope you do!).
6. Be careful about perfumes and tastes before a tasting tour
Don't eat or drink something beforehand that might interfere with your taste or smell. Coffee, fruity or mint chewing gum or candy will interfere with your palate and you won't make the most out of your tasting. The same happens with heavy sweet perfumes, cigars or cigarettes. So please avoid using strong perfumes and smoking before you go to a tasting, so that you won't ruin your experience not only for you but for the other people in the room.
7. Choose your wine tour outfit carefully
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes so that you can stroll through the vineyards without getting your feet dusty or deal with a stingy pain or your toe. If the tour is in the open sky, odds are that you will spend some time under the sun, so bring along a hat and sunglasses.
8. Make a tasting tour also fun for the children
If you're taking children with you, find out some other activity for them to do like playing with animals or food workshops, so that the children don't get bored and ruin your wine experience. Forget that if you know your child is interested in the wine-making process. Maybe he or she will become a great wine producer in the future!
9. Show interest in buying a bottle of wine from the producer
Don't feel pressured to buy a bottle but at least show some interest. But if you do buy a bottle (or two, or more), don't leave it in a hot car for the day, even if you carefully keep them in the trunk. We recommend you buy a wine case beforehand so that the wine will be more protected from the heat and so that you won't deal with bottles rattling around in your car. Ask the producers or guides to recommend you a case or a way to cool your bottles in the car.
10. Book some transportation to and from the vineyard
If your tasting doesn't include transportation, make sure you hire a driver or a taxi. Chances are you will taste many types of wine and those little sips can add up to an amount. If you're not staying at the hotel or farm where the winery is, they are happy to provide you with transportation to and from your hotel. If you're driving your own or rented car, be sure to pour out or spit once you have had too much tastings.