Napa Wine Country

A Taste Beyond…

wine-caves-in-Napa-300x198BARREL CAVE

The San Francisco wine tour that follows the scenic drive through the hills of Napa Wine Country, is simply Old World charming and the first winery tour is an experience that goes up in the not-to-be-forgotten list.  The aging caves are the best thing on the tour, where you are stunned by the sight of so-many-to-count barrels of wine as they line the walls, appearing as though they go on forever.

Where the wine lives

Image-1-A-Taste-Beyond-300x200The caves really are caves, hollowed out of the hillside and lined with gunite, the same material used to form swimming pools.

The cave-room you share with A Taste of San Francisco and Beyond fellow visitors to this winery is spectacular.  Splendid chandeliers, crystal and candelabra with glass globes that look antique and, once more, an Old World ethos charms the senses. Elegant, tables hold trays of bread and cheese to bring out the ultimate  experience in traditional wine tasting.  So very proper for your Napa Wine Country tour.

Wine Country tour tasting room

You may have studied up a bit with articles aboutwine tours from San Francisco and thought to bring a little notebook, or made a plan to record your impressions on your Smart Phone for a wine-buying excursion when you’ve returned home.  Good thinking!  And you may even know how to taste the wine in the finest Napa Wine Country traditions.  Just in case, we have a small primmer for the novice that we hope will introduce what your guide will deal with in detail on the way …


The first thing a connoisseur does is look at the wine, very carefully,
checking for color and clarity.

Traditional Tasting on A Taste of San Francisco and Beyond Napa Wine Country Tours

Napa Wine Country
Napa Wine Country

Wine country tasting techniques

Tilting the glass away, you can see the color from the rim to the middle of the glass.  Looking beyond the basic color, if it’s red, what color red would you compare it to? If it’s white, is it clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown?  Then look at its translucence.  Is it dark or watery, dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear?  Tilt and this time swirl gently—and look again to see if there’s any sediment, cork or other bits.


The nose is another tool for analyzing a wine. Swirling the glass for 10-12 seconds helps vaporize some of the wine’s alcoholic content to release more of its natural smell. Take a swift whiff for a first impression, then a deep inhale with your nose inside the glass. What do you smell as a second impression? Citrus, flowers, vanilla, oak, berry? Let your third sniff decide.


Experts call the initial impression on your palate the “Attack Phase” and appropriately so! This is where your taste buds earn their keep. You want to look for alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and residual sugar. These elements should be well-balanced and meld together for an impression of intensity and complexity, soft or firm, light or heavy, crisp or creamy, sweet or dry, but not necessarily real flavors like fruit or spice.

Another way to judge taste is by how long the flavor remains in your mouth after you’ve swallowed. Nice. Did it last several seconds? Was it light-bodied (like the weight of water), medium-bodied (similar in weight to milk) or full-bodied (like the consistency of cream)? Another taste…this time to confirm what you sensed with the first impression and another opportunity to record your decisions about what you experience when you roll it around in your mouth, then swallow. Did you like the wine altogether? Was it well balanced? How was the wine’s acidity. Does it taste better with cheese, bread or a heavy meal? Will you buy it?

Isn’t it fun to know that your Napa Wine Country tasting experience, courtesy of your wine tour San Francisco, can continue at home?

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