By Catie McIntyre Walker

men_and_pink 300x200Flowers are being planted and cases of new wines are being opened. The temperatures are rising and Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla is here.

Every first weekend of May the wineries in the Walla Walla Valley bring out their new releases. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the glorious new season and to showcase their newest vintages by opening their cellars and tasting rooms.

During the Spring Release Weekend, visitors to the wineries are often treated to many special events including: music, art, food and wine pairings as well as parties for various winery club members.

Even the toughest of men act like giddy lil’ school girls at the thought of what new wine releases awaits them at their favorite wineries. But, how does one maintain their sober composure with so many wines to choose from?

Spit and dump. Seriously. It’s what the professional wine drinkers must do when they are at various trade shows and wine seminars and even some of us who are called upon to judge at competitions. So your excuse is that you are not a wine professional…

Plan your day to get the most of your visit to the wineries. We all want to visit as many wineries as possible, but after the fifth or sixth winery visit, the palate gets a bit fatigued and that 26th wine you just sampled in the late afternoon is going to taste like a complete different wine in the next couple of weeks. Your taste buds are exhausted!

Here are some handy-dandy wine tasting survival tips to get you through the weekend:

  • Make a list of wineries you want to visit and map it out ahead of time. It’s best to plan no more than five to six wineries a day to make the most of your visit and with a clear head. You can come back and visit us again, right?
  • Plan ahead for a designated driver.
  • Eat a large and rather protein and carb-laden breakfast. Now is not the time for that granola bar or banana and kale smoothie. A day of wine tasting is a reason to order the biscuits and sausage gravy!
  • Hydrate-hydrate-hydrate. For every glass of wine you consume, a water chaser should follow.
  • Play nice. This is a fun weekend, so relax and put down the cell phone, especially while in the tasting rooms. -Nobody wants to hear about how baby just made a poo-poo for the baby sitter. If you’re really that important to leave the phone on ringer, no doubt your Secret Service can answer the phone for you.
  • Most important! Keep an open mind. You think you don’t like Chardonnay, but maybe your palate has advanced since your last sip of Chardonnay when you were on the disco floor in the ‘80’s. You may even discover a winemaker who has the perfect touch to the often maligned grape.
  • Last but not least, enjoy the new roses’ that are being released. We are seeing more and more being produced in the Walla Walla Valley. These ain’t your grandma’s “blush.” Our local roses’ are often very typical of the wines of Provence. The wine may be pink, but as one of our favorite winemakers in the valley reminds us, “Yes, you can drink rose’ and still be bad *ss.”

Enjoy our beautiful valley and please drive safely!