Nothing makes me happier than getting discounted or free wine tastings especially since a lot of wineries are now charging anywhere up to $30-$50 per tasting. I think this is absolutely crazy since I use to get tastings for only $10-$20. I feel like the wineries have figured out that people want the whole wine tasting experience so they know people are willing to pay a premium. I think it’s kind of sad because it’s not about tasting the wines anymore and now it’s more about capitalizing on birthdays and bachelorette parties.
Luckily, there are still a handful of places that offer a deal on wine tastings so you don’t have to break the bank. I’ve decided to make this guide so know where exactly to get discounted or free wine tastings for your next trip. Most of the wineries will be based out of the West Coast since I writing this based on my previous trips.
Are These Free Wine Tastings Really Free?
Yes, these free wine tastings do exist because I know from first-hand experience. Although, there are some requirements that you must meet to get these benefits. The two main wine regions I’ll be concentrating on are the state of Oregon and Sonoma Valley in Northern California.
Oregon Free Wine Tastings
The Oregon Wine Board has partnered with Alaska Airlines to provide two major wine benefits while traveling: 1) Free wine tastings at over 300 participating wineries and 2) Check-in one case of wine for free on your flight home. To take advantage of the free wine tastings, all you have to do is show your Alaska Mileage Plan Membership (free) and your boarding pass showing that you’ve landed within the last seven days. You can find all the participating wineries here.
Photo courtesy of https://www.oregonwine.org
Sonoma Valley Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) Free Wine Tastings
Sonoma Valley doesn’t have free wine tastings right off the bat but does offer you a chance to buy one tasting and get the other tasting for free. The requirement for this benefit is that you have to be a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite cardholder. You can find all the wineries listed here.
Photo courtesy of https://sonomawine.com/visa-signature/
Do I Need To Make A Reservation for Wine Tasting?
Nowadays, I highly recommend you make a reservation especially if it’s a free wine tasting. A lot of wineries are now required to take reservations due to state regulations and even more so due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also call ahead of time to make sure they are still offering the free wine tasting deal. Once in a while, I will call a winery and they will tell me that they aren’t part of the program anymore even though they are still listed. So, it’s better to always double-check before you go.
How Much Wine Do They Give You At A Wine Tasting?
Wine tastings can range anywhere from four to six glasses ranging from 1-2 oz each. Also, if they really like you or if you’ve spent a lot of money on buying bottles, they might even give you extra tastings of their reserve wines from their back cellar. It just all depends on the winery. A good thing to mention is that the wine tasting will be the same regardless of whether it’s free or paid. What I mean is that they are going to be stingy on the pour just because you are doing a free wine tasting.
Do You Tip at a Free Wine Tasting?
Yes, please tip especially if it’s a free wine tasting and even more if you don’t plan on buying a bottle. Just because you don’t have to pay for the wine tasting doesn’t mean that the server didn’t provide you a service. Usually, when I do a free wine tasting, I always try to buy a bottle to help support. If I don’t buy anything, I always leave a decent tip.
How Many Wine Tastings Should I Do?
In my honest opinion, I really think you should do no more than two wine tastings per day regardless of whether it’s free or paid. I only say this from experience because, after a while, your tongue will be too numb to even taste anything after that. If you really want to cram three in a day (which I don’t recommend) then I highly suggest you share all your tastings with someone so you won’t lose your taste buds and most of all, get too drunk. Another trick is just to spit out your wine. This is common practice and I’ve done it a bunch so don’t feel embarrassed. If anything, you’ll look like a pro!