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The El Dorado Winery Association’s Bring Out the Barrel will take place January 29-30, 2011. It features barrel tasting from 26 wineries in the El Dorado wine country. In addition, many wineries feature entertainment, live bands and food pairings. Ticket prices are $20 in advance if purchased before January 23. Discounts are also available for designated drivers and groups.
To purchase tickets and learn more, visit www.eldoradowines.org.
Before visiting an El Dorado winery, a few tips from veteran wine drinkers and winemakers on how to make the most of your experience:
Find a designated driver. Convince a friend or hire a car service to be your driver for the day. These wineries offer generous pours and encourage you to try as much as possible. Some of the wineries are also located off curvy mountain roads. With 26 wineries to choose from, you want the ability to enjoy as many wineries (and wine) as possible.
Eat a big breakfast. People focus too much on where to eat at the end of the day instead of how to start it. Stop at Zachary Jacques and enjoy a stack of buttermilk pancakes or their French toast. You will want a full stomach with all the wine tasting ahead of you. For a complete listing of restaurants in El Dorado, visit www.eldoradowines.org/visit-hospitality.html.
Bring a picnic lunch. Nearly all of the wineries feature picnic areas, outside seating and amazing views. The weather should be ideal to enjoy this opportunity. Stop at Trader Joe’s, Corti Brothers or Whole Foods and grab a simple lunch of fresh bread, double crème cheese, marinated olives and thinly sliced meats. Or make sandwiches at home and put your dollars towards buying a bottle of wine to enjoy with your lunch.
Relax. There is no pressure. No one is judging you to see if you hold your glass the wrong way or stick your nose in far enough to smell the wine. “There is no right way to drink wine,” says Latcham Vineyards owner and operator D.J. Latcham. He does encourage you to “take it all in.” Don’t be afraid to smell the wine first. A wine’s smell will many times give you an inkling of its taste. Be sure to let the wine “open up” or breathe by swirling it in your glass, especially reds. Sip at first. Enjoy the wine at the back of your mouth where most of your taste sensors are located.
There are no stupid questions. El Dorado winemakers and wine owners love to talk to customers about their wines. So don’t be afraid to ask questions such as what grapes are in the wine, where are they from, what type of barrels are used or what food should be paired with it. Be sure to tell these experts what wines you enjoy. They may offer similar selections. And if you find a wine you like, ask for seconds. “An empty glass is like a heartache around here,” said Latcham.