So, you’re out wine tasting and having a grand old time. Everything tastes delicious—in fact, most of the wines you taste are starting to blur into an unmanageable haze. Was it the first white you liked or the fourth? Or did you only like the fourth white because the third wasn’t your favorite? Here are a few tips to help you purchase the right bottle and regain your sanity. I can already hear you asking, “But what’s the best?” Well, that’s obvious! It’s the one you’ll actually want to drink once you leave the tasting room.
Pick the Right Tasting Room
While some regions are known for $30 tasting fees and snobby service, Paso Robles is still a down-home getaway where you can meet the winemakers behind the bottles. Pick a tasting room that’s not too crowded, so that you can ask questions of the staff and take your time leisurely deciding which wine fits your budget, taste buds, and cooking style. Although crazy-crowded tasting rooms can be fun for events and celebrations, you don’t want to have to fight your way to the tasting bar, especially if you’re in the mood to compare. If it looks like the staff is frazzled or there’s some sort of pick-up party, you might come back a different day. P.S. That’s totally OK!
Pick: Many downtown Paso tasting rooms fit the bill of casual, laid back and not too crowded, but Lusso Della Terra adds to this ambiance with a chill lounge perfect for hanging out. Taste through a range of Italian varietals while kicking back and truly savoring the flavor.
Mapping and Directions to Lusso Della Terra: speedfind.com/LDT
No, these don’t have to be super detailed; just use a system that you will understand. Maybe you place a star or smiley face next to the wine you liked best, or maybe you write one descriptive word next to each taste to remind you of what piqued your interest. Don’t underestimate your ability to get distracted by a good conversation, your phone, or perhaps the winery dog beckoning you to put down the glass and go for a belly rub. Of course, all of these interactions are wonderful—and what make the Paso wine tasting experience great—but be vigilant when it comes to marking down what blows you away. You’ll thank yourself later.
Pick: Eberle Winery off Highway 46 East in Paso Robles offers up cool wine caves, a casual vibe and tons of iconic Paso Robles wines. That said, you’ll also get incredible knowledge from their helpful staff, who are happy to help you make your next purchase with confidence.
Mapping and Directions to Eberle Winery: speedfind.com/EberleWinery
Eat the Crackers
Those dry, bland crackers are there for a reason: USE THEM! Consume a little bit of a breadstick or cracker between each wine (whatever the staff has on-hand will be fine) to help reset your palate and provide you with a clean slate. Beware: When you go relentlessly from one wine to the next, you don’t just fatigue your tasting room attendant (he’s not a bartender), you also wear out your tongue.
Pick: Better yet, stop between tasting rooms for a full meal at Fish Gaucho in Paso Robles. Enjoy fresh ceviche, light, crunchy chips (and a whole lot of replenishing H20). We promise, once you get back to your tastings, your body and mind will feel revived and recharged.
Mapping and Directions to Fish Gaucho: speedfind.com/FishGaucho
The previous tip flows nicely into this sage piece of advice: Never taste at more than three tasting rooms in a day. Sure, it’s fun to go big if someone’s rented a limo, but you won’t really be able to taste the wines adequately if you have had too many. That said, always spit your wine and if you absolutely know you hate something, it’s OK not to try it. Of course, you might have an antiquated idea of the varietal (say, merlot), but sometimes you just have to get over the FOMO that comes when saying “no” to one taste so that you can be present for what really speaks to you. Limit your intake and you won’t just retain your sobriety, you’ll also retain your ability to make informed and thoughtful decisions about your wine purchases.
What are You Looking for?
You wouldn’t buy a piece of furniture without first considering where you’d put it in your house, right? Be courteous to your wine cellar and only pick up bottles you think are delicious, one—and two, have a purpose. Perhaps this is a rich Cab that you will expect to lay down for five to ten years, or maybe this is a fun rosé that you will be ready to throw into your fridge the moment you get home. Neither is better or worse, but make sure that you are not amassing random bottles for your grandchildren to one-day sort through. Wine hoarding might seem impressive, but really it just bogs down your collection with “meh” bottles you’re not keen on opening. Better to have less of the best!
Pick: Know yourself and be practical. Love big, bold Cabs and warm weather varietals that sing with Paso sunshine? Go for Rangeland Wines. More into cool climate whites that show crisp acidity? Head for the coast and Cutruzzola Winery.
* Mapping and Directions to Rangeland barrel room at Denner Vineyards
(by appt. only): speedfind.com/dennervineyards
Mapping and Directions to Cutruzzola Winery: speedfind.com/Cutruzzola
* To taste Rangeland Wines, please call Laird at 805.674.9232 or winemaker Paul Hinschberger at 208.520.0882 to schedule an appointment. Please do not call Denner directly.
This blog was written by Hayley Thomas Cain, food and wine writer for SLO New Times and PasoRoblesWineries.net. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on instagram @flavorslo.
If you’re looking for a place to spend the night in Paso Robles, checkout:
The Adelaide Inn is an iconic, locally owned hotel known for its friendly staff and lush landscaping. With spacious rooms and a convenient location close to highway 101 and the event center – home of the California Mid-State Fair – this hotel is a great choice for most travelers.
Majestically set among vineyards, olive groves and fruit baring orchards, the 20-acre Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a world unto itself, offering breathtaking settings that inspire and bring joy to all who choose this memorable wine country haven. Featuring 171 rooms and suites, on-site spa, grand ballroom, wine tasting room, and inspired culinary creations at Cello, the resort’s full service restaurant.
La Bellasera Hotel & Suites is an elegant boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country. Influenced by Mediterranean and Italian architecture, the luxurious accommodations reflect the aged sophistication of the Central Coast region and the relaxed nature of the California countryside.
Hampton Inn & Suites Paso Robles is nestled in the Central Coast wine region, home to over 200 wineries, beautiful beaches, mountains and diverse attractions. Relax and revive in a comfortable guest room with all you need for a successful stay. You can count on Hampton to deliver value, consistency and service with a smile. We love having you here®
Experience the pristine countryside of Paso Robles Wine Country at Lekai Ranch. Lounge on the porch of your private suite and lose yourself in the tranquility and stunning views of the vineyards and oak studded hills beyond. This vacation rental is located just minutes from some of the most distinguished wineries and a premier olive oil estate, and only 15 minutes from downtown Paso Robles’ restaurants, wineries and shopping.
Enjoy the elegance, style and natural beauty of California’s Central Coast at the JUST Inn®. Surrounded by vineyards, our JUST Inn Suites offer luxurious appointments like fireplaces, Tempur-Pedic®mattresses, Frette linens, hydro-spa tubs, and range in size from 600–1,200 square feet. An overnight stay includes breakfast and a tour of the winery and caves.