There are many different wine festivals around the world that are worth attending, from major international events in North America through to the world’s oldest wine festival, the Wurstmarkt in Germany. You can also find local wine and cheese festivals, as well as special events that combine wine tasting with food and beer. When planning to attend your first wine festival, what are some of the things you should expect?
First, expect to see a lot of different varieties of wine – there may be hundreds of different wineries attending a major festival, making it difficult to choose what you want to taste. You can usually find out about attending wineries online, and can plan accordingly. Different types of wines may also be subdivided into different rooms, and may have limits over how many tastings they can hold.
Different rules apply depending on the festival, but some sort of food is usually provided on a complementary and paid basis at a wine festival. Some stalls will provide palette cleansers like bread, cheese, and cracks, while others will purely sell food. It’s worth bringing along a bottle of water for the day if you want to keep yourself properly hydrated while tasting wines – eating a big meal before the festival can also save you money.
The main reason that most people attend wine festivals is to get the chance to taste and sample a lot of different wines; remember to spit out wine into spittoons afterwards, otherwise you might not be able to last a whole day. Some wine festivals provide free tasting glasses. Consider pacing yourself by going from whites to reds, and then to sparkling wine and port – just sampling a wine shouldn’t cause you to become ill.
Wine festivals are also great places to learn more about the history of and current trends within the wine industry; most of these talks are oriented towards traders, but can be useful if you want to gain some knowledge about wine’s origins; specialist classes and cookery demonstrations are also held around festivals, but can get booked up fairly quickly.
As well as the wine and food, larger festivals often feature crafts stalls, outdoor marquees, live music, and the chance to enjoy boat rides and cruises if the festival is held near a river. You can also expect there to be stalls from local businesses, which can offer discounts and special offers for the festival. Similarly, although a wine festival probably isn’t the best place for children, festivals do provide special areas and stalls for them.
Look Ahead for Discounts
Festival websites will typically provide details on any discounts that you can take advantage of at a festival; this might include discounted cases, or the chance to gain entry to special talks for a lower price. Websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds should be regularly checked for these offers.
Check Your Diet
Before attending a festival, remember to be clear about any dietary restrictions you have at booths, particularly if there is food involved; double check with booth attendants about what goes into different wines and the appetisers they might be offering, and make sure that you always carry water during a festival.
About the Author:
Eva Holmes is a food and wine writer who regularly contributes to a range of food and drink websites and blogs. She loves the atmosphere you have at festivals.