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Patrons enjoying (and behaving) themselves at Sparkling Pointe last month. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Spring is back on the North Fork

Winterfest, the East End’s local multi-weekend music festival, is over. The weather, I hope, is going to stay on its subtle warming trend. And it’s a great time to visit your favorite local wineries and discover new favorites.

Go. Have fun. But remember, there are rules – unwritten and written – that you should follow when visiting. It will make the experience more fun for you, your fellow customers and for the wineries. And the fact is, the wineries want you to have fun. But they also want you to be safe.

Here are 5 ways to not be an idiot in a winery tasting room.

1. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive
Not to get all MADD on you, but this should be a given. Each tasting pour is only an ounce or two, but they can add up over the course of a day. Either decide who is going to drive – before you even get to the first winery – or hire a limo or other service to drive you around. Never assume that someone in your party will be “sober enough” to drive at the end of your day. Nothing ruins a great day on the North Fork like getting arrested. Or worse.

It’s also a good idea to eat before you get to the first tasting room.

2. Know where you’re going
I don’t mean that you need a formal itinerary before you leave your house. But, there are different types of wineries out here that offer different experiences. If you’re looking for a quiet tasting room experience where the focus is entirely on the wine, you probably don’t want to visit Vineyard 48. Similarly, if you’re looking for a raucous crowd and tables you can camp out at for the day, Southold Farm + Cellar probably isn’t for you. A quick Google search and some research on social media can go a long way to ensure that you end up at the right wineries for your tastes.

3. Don’t wear perfume or cologne
This is a personal pet peeve. If I’m tasting wine, I want to be able to smell the wine – not the cologne the guy next to me has drowned himself in. You’ve met that guy. I know you have. Hopefully you’re not that guy. Just be considerate.

4. Remember – a tasting room is not a club
Some wineries have created a bar-like atmosphere, but they still aren’t bars. Don’t ask to be “filled up” and just be respectful of those around you and behind the tasting bar. If you’re drinking to get drunk, do it at your favorite local watering hole – with your designated driver in tow.

5. Don’t rush and don’t try to visit every winery. It’s not a race. There isn’t an award for visiting the most wineries in one day. Rather than rushing through each tasting, barely tasting anything at all, pick three or four wineries that you want to visit and take your time at each.

Wine tasting is about more than just the wine. Enjoy your friends, the setting and the conversation. Rushing because you want to visit every winery in one day (it isn’t possible by the way) takes away from the experience.

Lenn Thompson