Going wine tasting is a great activity to do with friends and family. Especially, during the summer you can take your out-of-town visitors to experience Maryland’s charm. It’s better than taking them to the mall. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are visiting:
- Tasting fees: Most places charge a tasting fee. The fee varies from place to place, but usually it is $5 per person. A tasting consist of six or more small pours of wine. A complimentary glass may be included with your tasting. Make sure you ask if you can keep the glass before taking it.
- Bring food: Maryland wineries do not serve meals. Some offer a cheese plate, crackers, or a snack for an extra fee. Bring a lunch or heavy snacks with you. It is a long day tasting wine with nothing to eat. Most places have indoor and/or outdoor dining areas for you to enjoy your meal and the scenery.
- Ask for the tour: Scheduled tours of the facilities and the vineyard are available. Larger vineyards have scheduled tours you can take; call in advance for the times. Several wineries are family owned, operated businesses. The family members work in the tasting rooms and are happy to answer questions about their wines. In some of the smaller vineyards if the tasting room is not terribly busy they are happy to show you around. In most cases, there is not an additional fee for this peek behind the scenes.
- Use the bucket: You are not going to like everything you sample. Ask for the bucket. Do not be afraid to use the bucket to discard your tasting. The staff will not be offended. Life is too short to drink what you do not like.
- Corkage fees: Once you find one you like… stay and have a glass or two. This is a leisurely activity and not a bar crawl. You can buy by the glass or by the bottle to drink at the venue. The staff will uncork the bottle without charging a corkage fee.
- Wine clubs: If you really like the wine ask about their wine club or preferred membership. There are great benefits to becoming a member… free tastings, discounts on purchases, access to exclusive events.
- Live entertainment: During the summer, many wineries schedule bands or have entertainment on Fridays and/or Saturdays. Posted on their websites are the entertainment schedules and the Maryland Wine Association website. Check to see if you have to buy a ticket to attend the event.
Visiting vineyards is fun activity. You can bring the family and enjoy a picnic lunch. The kids love running in the open fields. Call ahead if you have a large group to schedule your tasting. The wineries want to make sure they are able to accommodate you.
There are over 60 wineries in Maryland. More than likely there is a winery less than 30 miles from you. To find a winery near you, go to the Maryland Wine Association website (www.marylandwine.com).