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wine tasting photo by carrie miller

Photo by Carrie Miller

carrie miller wine tasting photo

Summer is in full swing, which means the vino is flowing freely at wineries across the North Fork.

Planning a trip to one of the 30-plus tasting rooms in the area? Then take heed from these local winery managers, staffers and winemakers, who shared their thoughts about having a good time, pacing oneself — and not pouring leftover wine in the tip jar.

DO remember that a North Fork merlot won’t taste the same as the one you love from Napa Valley.

“I think the most important thing about tasting wine in a winery setting is to learn the story of that winery and to be very careful not to associate it directly with other wine regions in the world,” says David Page, co-owner of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck. “The best thing you can do is try to identify what it is about this place that makes these wines have their own, personal identity.”

DON’T feel intimidated by the long list of wines on a tasting menu.

“There are so many different types and styles that it can be a little daunting, but if you keep an open mind and ask your server questions you can actually end up learning a lot,” says Gibson Campbell, a wine educator at Macari Vineyards in Mattituck.

DO sit back and relax, without getting too crazy.

“Don’t jump over the tables,” says Juan Sepulveda, winemaker at Laurel Lake Vineyards in Laurel. “I’ve seen that and much more. Respect our place of work and respect all the customers. Have an experience with the wine, the atmosphere and the service.”

DON’T give up on a varietal you’ve convinced yourself you dislike.

“I hate rosé, but whenever I go to a vineyard, I try what I don’t like and I’m happy I do, because Mattebella Vineyards [in Southold] has a rosé that I love,” says Jennifer Smith, a tasting room employee at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue. “You’d be surprised by how every vineyard really does make the same wine differently.”

DO tip your server.

Is it required? No. Is it appreciated? You bet. Tasting room staff members spend a lot of time learning about the different wines they serve. “These are hard-working people who depend on tips to pay the rent,” Mr. Page says.

DON’T arrive at a winery with a large group or in a limo group without a heads-up.

“Many wineries will only accept limos or large groups by reservation,” says Angela Jacobchek, hospitality and retail manager at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue. “Everyone’s a bit different so it’s best to call ahead or check out their website to get all the information you might need.”

DO pace yourself.

“Don’t be afraid to dump out your wine pour,” Ms. Smith says. “You can make it to more wineries that way.”

“I suggest visiting only a select few [tasting rooms] so you can relax and enjoy yourself,” Ms. Jacobchek adds. “Most tasting rooms offer flights, which are a series of wines placed in palate progressive order that showcase the winery’s style and/or North Fork terroir. Pick a spot for lunch and enjoy it with a glass of your favorite!”

DO be careful where you pour out that half-ounce of chardonnay; Paul Giamatti impersonators can take a hike

“Don’t pour your wine out in the tip jars – or quote ‘Sideways,’ ” Mr. Campbell says, referencing a famous, not-fit-for-print line from the 2004 film about two friends who go wine tasting in Napa Valley.

DON’T get caught up trying to find favorites.

“The most important thing about tasting wine is to learn to enjoy the differences between them and to “love the one you’re with,” Mr. Page says. “Try to find the attributes of the wine in front of you that make it important.”