School's in session, on your terms: We're asking the Valley's top wine gurus to answer all your wine-related queries, tackling them one at a time each Wednesday, so we can all stress less and pour more. Today's teacher: Christine Wisniewski, co-owner of Caffe Boa and certified sommelier.
UNCORK THE ISSUE: How should I plan a wine tour vacation?
SPILL THE JUICE: "Pick a region, know it proficiently, and try to taste as much as possible and experience as much as possible in that region," says Christine Wisniewski, the co-owner of Caffe Boa with her husband, Jay, and a certified sommelier who traveled to Croatia and Slovenia this summer touring vineyards and tasting wines.
NOTE THE COMPLEXITIES: Do your homework. "Know what you want to explore," Wisniewski says. "Definitely do some research on where geographically you want to go and how to get from place to place."
Click through for the rest of Wisniewski's tips and the type of wine tour she'd sign up for...
Pick a region and focus on it, whether you're close to home or far away. "I wouldn't try to do three different regions in one trip; it would just be overwhelming," Wisniewski cautions. "I'd say pick one region, do some research, know exactly what you want to do and explore all it has to offer."
"Work in tastings as much as possible," Wisniewski recommends. "Meet the winemakers, walk through the vineyards, touch the soil, see and fell what it's like, and ask questions. That's where it resonates to memory as well, when you experience it first hand."
Allow room for spontaneity. "Be open to experience a visceral experience," Wisniewski says. "Be open to anything that comes your way. Do your research beforehand to know the general direction of where you're going but nothing that stops you from being experimental"
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GET THE GOODS: "I'm all about agrotourism right now," Wisniewski explains. "In Europe they're doing a bunch of agrotourism where inns will make all their own food and bring in wines from the region. Eating locally and regionally is key, especially if you're going abroad. The most important thing is to do everything regionally: Experience the food and wine together."
TAP INTO THE GRAPEVINE: Call ahead to the vineyards you want to visit. "Most vineyards are willing to have tasting, but if you want to visit a vineyard, I'd set it up beforehand," Wisniewski recommends. "It also allows them to time to prepare a presentation of their wines, instead of whatever they might have in their tasting rooms. You might be able to taste an older vintage or something from their cellar if you plan ahead."
SWALLOW THIS: Wisienski says, above all else, "You should keep an open mind, taste as much as possible, and get as much information as possible from the people that are there."
Come back for class next Wednesday, check out our previous wine lessons, and leave your questions for our wine gurus in the comment section below, no hand-raising necessary.