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RULES OF THE ROAD: ADVICE FROM A WINE TASTING JUNKIE
  1. PLAN AHEAD: Get a map of the region you want to visit, so you don't spend more time driving than you do tasting. If you're a fan of a particular varietal do a little research. Most areas have their own association that lists who makes what so you're not stuck drinking wines you don't like. However, that being said...

  2. BE OPEN: Within reason, try everything a winery has to offer. You never know when you will find a new favorite, which is a truly magical experience. The only way to refine your palate is to drink, so throw away your preconceptions and taste with abandon.

  3. ASK QUESTIONS: Interest can get you another taste...and sometimes of the good stuff. The person pouring may be the winemaker and they just love to talk about their craft. If you have the time, and the bar isn't overly crowded, try to discover why the winery you're at is different from their neighbors.

  4. SPIT IT OUT: Or pour it out. Just don't drink everything. There's no way you're going to like every wine and no one will be offended. Being judicious will save you from drunkenly purchasing wines you would hate if sober and on the right side of the law. Plus, everybody hates a drunk, especially in a tasting room. If you've been to Santa Ynez since "Sideways" you know what I mean.

  5. JOIN THE CLUB: Membership has its' privileges and they all revolve around fun. This is a great way to start a cellar as well as make some new friends. Don't feel obligated to join a club just because you've tasted and talked, but if you loved 90% of a wineries offerings, they may be one to consider. In addition to discounts, most wineries make special bottlings just for members which allows you to drink some pretty spectacular stuff.

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