Tag Archives: tasting room

Tasting Room Etiquette: The Dump Bucket

Here’s the deal: I know you don’t like wasting wine, but I would much rather that you dump your wine out than drink unsafely. I have so many customers come in and tell me that they hate wasting wine, so they would rather drink wine they don’t actually want than use the dump bucket. Maybe I’ve become immune to dumping wine out, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to waste that little bit of wine. It’s better than being wasted yourself! Here are some thoughts on dump buckets:

1. I would so much rather that you dumped out that extra sip of wine than, say, drink it and drive. All those little tastes add up; sip what you want, and then dump the rest and have some water instead.

2. You don’t want to see how much wine gets “wasted” on a daily basis. In a winery, you lose wine all the time when you’re cleaning barrels, moving wine, bottling, etc. What you pour out in the dump bucket is nothing, nothing compared to what gets lost during production.

3. When we have wine left in the bottle after a couple days, we either take it home or dump it out. Sometimes there is wine that gets poured out, and that just seems to be the way of the wine world. The winery where I work has a barrel where we turn leftover bottles of wine into vinegar, but it’s currently full, so we’re back to dumping out wine. What I’m saying is, there’s a good chance that wine might get dumped out whatever you choose to do.

4. This is a very small issue, but I run across it all the time; it’s actually really difficult to pour a tiny amount of wine into a glass, and I’d like you to have enough to overcome those last drops of the previous wine. Instead of asking me to pour “just the tiniest bit” into your glass, please just dump the extra. If you ask, I will try and pour less than an ounce (the standard taste), but that quarter-of-an-ounce that you have to pour out won’t make much of a difference in the long run and will save me from spilling some wine down the side of the glass as I try to gently tip only a few drops from the bottle.

Some people (especially if they have a driver) don’t even think about using the dump bucket, and that’s fine, but there is really no need to hesitate to use it. I always think it’s better to use it than drink something you don’t want to, especially if you’re trying to hit a lot of wineries in one day, and especially if you’re the one driving. I almost always dump wine after taking a couple sips, unless it’s a wine that I’m absolutely taken with.

I promise, using the dump bucket gets easier every time you do it! Readers in the wine industry; what are your takes on dump buckets?


Wine Tasting 101: How Many Wineries in a Day?

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When you visit Walla Walla, it is so easy to take one look at the list of wineries and go a little crazy trying to fit as many as possible into your trip. Sometimes I’ll ask a group how many wineries they’re planning on visiting that day, and they’ll say something insane, like 14 (and then I follow up with, “So, you hired a driver, right?”). I think 14 might be doable, if you only tried one or two wines at each place and made heavy use of the dump bucket, but I’d feel a little sad for you, because you’d miss out on the best parts of wine tasting. Hands down, my favorite tastings have been when I took the time to linger on the patio and savor each taste or have a long conversation with my server. A quick in-and-out tasting is like a wine that falls flat on the finish. 

My best advice is to pick four wineries each day. Have a substantial breakfast, go to two wineries in the morning, have a big, long lunch, and check out two more in the afternoon. That way, you’re splitting up your drinking and getting a lot of food in your stomach before tasting. Maybe you won’t get to every winery that you’d like to try, but Walla Walla will still be here whenever you’d like to come back!

The way Walla Walla is set up, it is so easy to overdo it on wineries. Each wine tasting area (West side, Airport, Downtown, South side) has a whole lot of wineries in a row, and it tricks you into thinking that you should just go down the road, trying all of the wineries in one go. This is not a great plan, which you can probably tell right now, but it gets a little harder to say no once you’ve already been to a couple wineries. Make a plan and stick to it. 

After a couple wineries, your poor little taste buds get tired out, and it’ll be harder to distinguish between wines. At that point, any winery visit becomes more drinking than tasting, and that defeats the whole purpose. I think it’s better to take a break and then get back to it when you can actually taste the wines.

At any point, if you can’t remember how many wineries you’ve already been to, it’s time to stop! 

Winery Spotlight: Kerloo Cellars

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Sometimes customers tell me that the wineries who have tasting rooms in downtown Walla Walla aren’t as good quality as the wineries just outside on the south side or east side. Kerloo Cellars is here to prove them wrong! 

I first heard about Kerloo through some friends who told me about their killer Syrah, but because their tasting room hours are sadly limited (Fridays and Saturdays only), I never made it out to taste. Luckily, I found out through facebook that they were open late for Spring Release last week, and I was able to just make it in before they closed! I’ve had their Temperanillo before, if you remember this post, but I’ve never tried anything else from them, so I was really excited to see the Majestic and a Syrah-Grenache on their tasting bar. Both were delicious; the Majestic (a Rhone-style table blend, grapes from Columbia Valley) was a little lighter, with great fruit and some of the savory qualities I expect now in a Syrah or Syrah blend, and the Syrah-Grenache (grapes from Snipes Mountain) was dark and savory, but with almost a floral quality to it as well, which was surprising.

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The tasting room itself is small, as you can see, but was a really calm and soothing place in a sea of busy and crowded tasting rooms. Sonja, who runs the tasting room, is smart and knowledgeable both about wine in general and Kerloo wines in particular. This isn’t the sort of tasting room where you might stop for a picnic or to lounge and have a glass or bottle; this is your good old-fashioned, no-frills wine tasting room, meant to showcase the wines themselves.

Find them downtown, kitty-corner to the Marcus Whitman hotel, every Friday and Saturday 11-4.

Definitely make this a stop on your wine tasting tour or even on your way to lunch downtown; Kerloo is worth a visit at least. And pick up a bottle of the Majestic; I did!

5 Things to Know Before Wine Tasting

I know wine tasting can be intimidating if you’re new to wine or have never been to a tasting room before. Luckily, we tasting room workers are trained to tell you about the wine AND make you feel comfortable in the winery; if you’re an inexperienced wine taster, let us know, and we can explain it to you! We see a wide range of people in tasting rooms, from the person who is tasting for the first time to the person who grew up in Napa around wine and tasting rooms. However, there are some tips that are helpful to know ahead of time; here are 5 things you should know before you descend on the wineries!

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True Story: White Chardonnay

I was pouring at an event put on by a local organization, largely very pleasant people who were mostly non-wine drinkers. One of the less pleasant people came up to the bar, inspected the wine we were pouring, and pompously asked, “Is that a white Chardonnay?”

I really hate to judge people who don’t know about wine, because I get it. Not everyone knows about wine. But I do, in my heart of hearts, judge people who pretend that they know a lot about wine and act pompous about it.

A Lesson to Take Away: Chardonnay is always white and please be polite to your servers.

So you want to learn about wine

Have you ever stared at a wine list at a restaurant in bewilderment until you finally just point to something so you have a drink?

Have you ever struggled through a conversation with a wine snob, trying not to make a fool of yourself by admitting you know nothing about wine except the words “merlot” and “chardonnay”?

Do you browse the wine aisle of the store and pick out cheap bottles based on the labels alone?

If any of this is familiar, then this is the blog for you.
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