I am thrilled to feature one of my best friends, Kate Edgecombe as a writer on my blog today. We have been friends for a long time. 9 years to be exact! Kate was recently sharing with me (over a glass of wine of course) her 5-step process for picking out wine when traveling for business or for fun. I hope you enjoy her little tricks of the trade!
A little background on me is I travel for a living. What I do is I am a Traveling Event Planner who works for a Real Estate Education company. I put on 3-day seminars all over the country almost every weekend, so I fly out on Thursdays and fly home on Mondays. If you want to learn how to flip a house, hit me up! But really, I travel 5 days a week and so picking the right wine on the road is an essential! I almost always get a rental car because I pick up snacks for my team and goods for local charities so I am always going to a Grocery Store or Whole Foods (if I am lucky). To spend a few extra minutes going down the wine aisle when I am already at the grocery store is not only convenient, but a benefit to me as well.
I prefer to buy a bottle for the weekend as opposed to just going to the hotel bar and getting glasses because, one I will get a better deal and to be honest my wallet really appreciates the consideration. Two because I will get better quality and better tasting wines. The hotel bar usually only has a few different types and only a couple overpriced brands that are usually not very good. Three because I can regulate how much wine I have. We all know what can happen when we go to a bar and one glass very easily turns into 2-4 when the bar tender keeps topping off your glass! And then you wake up with a hangover because it was cheap wine to begin with, which I try to avoid at all costs. Lastly, four because I think it is more fun to have a glass of wine in my room and get caught up on my Netflix, dive into the book that I am reading or Skype my friends and family than it is to sit alone or with coworkers at a hotel bar. Not that I like to be a loner but the ones I really like are more than likely watching Netflix with me anyway!
So lets dive right into how I pick out my wine.
The first step is I go to the section of wine that I like. For these hot summer months for reds I like Pinot Noir (because it’s nice and light for being a red) or Merlot (because it almost always is made with cherries and for anyone that knows me they know I am obsessed with cherry anything including my wines). For whites I like Sauvignon Blanc (because of its light crisp taste and I feel like it has less tannins than Pinot Grigio so it doesn’t leave your mouth as dry) or any type of French Rosé (which always is going to throw my second step out the window but I still put it in there since it is my absolute favorite, in case anyone was wondering.) But whatever type is your preferred choice my traveling strategies will work for you as well.
The second step is I go to my price range. Which is different for everyone of course. But my philosophy on this is I'm okay spending up to a couple dollars more for a bottle than I would for a glass of wine at a bar. After all, you're getting a whole bottle instead of a single glass! A glass of wine at a bar is usually anywhere from $6-$12. For example the bottom shelf of the grocery store are usually wines that cost anywhere from $5-$9. Since I worked so hard to graduate college and have a job now I feel like I can afford a little bit better than that! During college it was bottom shelf all the way! My palate prefers the third shelf from the bottom which is the $20-$40 bottles but my budget still wants the bottom shelf, so I typically settle for the second shelf which is generally $9-$18. I like to stay in the $10-$14 range.
The third step. I like to keep my wino habits on the “DL” meaning I don't like to feel the judging eye of the front desk agent when I ask them for a wine opener as I have a whole bottle of wine in my hand by myself...oops! Plus, its not really practical, or legal, to fly with a corkscrew! So, at the store I look at all the wines that have a twist top. Which is actually increasingly more and more. Side note: I was also recently watching these YouTube videos of how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew and some of the ways were super creative. My favorite was using a man’s dress shoe as a wedge and banging it against the wall, however I would not recommend any of these alternative methods since I haven't tried any myself. Just make it easy and stick to the twist off top when you are traveling.
The fourth step. Out of the twist tops, I take a look at the regions of where the wine is being made. I'm a California girl born and raised so I prefer California wines from Santa Barbara County all the way up to the Napa/ Sonoma Valley, since I have had the most experience with trying these wines. I have been to a lot of the vineyards up the coastline of California and something about actually seeing and feeling where the grapes come from makes me appreciate the wine a little more. As well as the climate from central to northern California makes for some great grape growing weather. (Try to say that 5 times fast.) If there are no California wines, which is typical if you are in a smaller town (and a lot of the times this is where I end up on my travels), then I either do one of two things: one, see if there are any recognizable brands that I have tried before (I like Yellowtail or Barefoot) , or two I will always try a chance on a local brand which is fun. If there are two that I want I'll do an analysis based on cost or ingredients I prefer. (Or just buy both if I want to share with some friends ☺) Side note: If you are sensitive to headaches, stay away from nitrates and try to find organic wine!
The fifth step: Go back to your hotel and ask the bar tender for a wine glass. My favorite kind are bigger ones compared to those dinky room service sized ones. They won’t usually give you the big ones but a couple of times I have gotten lucky because I asked super nicely. I have a bad pet peeve of not liking to drink wine but in a wine glass something about it just doesn't taste the same to me. (I’m letting my wino show again.) And then the best part…ENJOY! Take time to enjoy and wind down at the end of your day whether you are on business or traveling for pleasure. If you are in a hotel, maybe take a nice bubble bath, go up to the roof or on the balcony, or just snuggle up in bed with a good movie or Netflix! We all deserve a little vino at the end of the day. I hope my tips help you on wherever your travels take you next. ~CHEERS