Traveling for wine is a dream job. What could be better? We get to explore wine regions all over the world, taste through some beautiful line-ups, and all surrounded by like-minded wine lovers. While it certainly is all that, it can also be pretty exhausting. After a week or so, you might be more than ready to go home and just rest. So, how can you balance out a wonderful wine experience while maintaining your health? Here, we have some tried-and-true tips that will help you get the most out of your next wine vacation.
Maintain a Schedule
We humans are part of the natural world and more or less follow the patterns of nature. We generally wake in the morning and sleep when it’s dark. Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, don’t stray too far from your daily sleep schedule. If your body is used to waking up at 6 am, try not to sleep in too late on vacation because you’ll throw your body’s rhythm off. You’ll be much more likely to try to supplement missing energy with caffeine or sugar, pushing yourself to exhaustion later.
Wake Up Early
This may seem counterintuitive because we tend to want to break away from all routine when we travel, but adding time in the morning is a lovely gift to yourself. If you’re traveling for work, you can use the extra time to review notes, orders, itineraries – whatever. You’ll be better prepared for the day ahead. Traveling with a group can be a little taxing, particularly if you’re more introverted. Giving yourself a little “you” time each morning will help you more fully enjoy your time with your friends or colleagues later.
We’re not trying to be your nagging mother, but breakfast really is one of the most important meals of the day because it fires up your body for the day ahead. Go easy on the caffeine and focus on a protein-based breakfast for sustained energy. A solid breakfast will help prevent immediate tipsiness because wine does get in your system no matter how much you spit, and it will also prevent mid-morning munchies. If you’re traveling for work, wineries will often lay out quite a spread, but trust us when we say there’s only so much pâté you should eat at 9 am. Your tummy will thank you later.
Take a Morning Walk
A morning walk is incredibly refreshing and is part of why waking up early can be such a joy. Giving yourself time to explore the village is the perfect way to set the tone for your day. You get to exercise, which is necessary when you’re shuttled from winery to restaurant and back again. You also give yourself time to explore your surroundings and will likely stumble upon something interesting that you would have otherwise missed.
Have a Designated Driver
This should go without saying but we’re saying it anyway. Always have a designated driver. This is almost always included when traveling for work, so be just as diligent about it when traveling for fun. It may be expensive to hire a driver but a ticket is much more so. And there’s no way to ruin the fun of wine tasting more quickly than to get pulled over by an unamused officer. Arrange for a driver and everyone wins.
Drink water – lots of it.
We know how important it is to hydrate, but it’s even more important for your wine trip. Your body will be dehydrated from travel and all that wine certainly won’t help. Invest in a reusable water bottle and make sure to fill it up several times throughout the day. It will also help stave off afternoon sleepiness. Bonus if you bring electrolyte packets.
Spit, spit, spit.
We know, we know – what fun is that? But we can’t emphasize the importance of spitting enough. Almost every wine professional knows all too well how those wee samples can sneak up on you. Spitting may feel weird at first but you’ll get the most out of your visit because you’ll be able to actually taste the wine instead of just drinking it. Take your time and get really curious about the wine – let it linger in your mouth and swish around a lot to get every nuance that you can. But then – spit.
Limit the Number of Wineries per Day
If you’re traveling for work, you might not have any say in this but that’s part of the job. If you have any control over your itinerary, try to limit winery visits to a maximum of three. You may feel compelled to cram as many wineries in as you can because when are you going to be in that area again? Prioritize which are must-sees, and stick to those, and from there, prioritize which wines are most important at each stop. You’ll experience palate-fatigue so tasting more won’t do the wines justice anyway.
Enjoy dinner, and skip dessert.
Dinners in wine country can be epic. Take your time and relax into the gorgeous meal and wine pairings in the company of fellow oenophiles. These tend to be the most unforgettable parts of the trip. As you’re winding down, skip dessert and after-dinner coffee. Sugar and caffeine both disrupt sleep and you’ll want to be well-rested for whatever tomorrow brings. If you need a little extra nibble after dinner, opt for a cheese plate.
Give yourself downtime.
At some point in our cultural history, we decided that the best answer to “How are you?” is “Busy!” The benefits of busyness are so drilled into our society that they’re hard to shake. We’d like to help shift the concept of downtime from luxury to necessity. Your body and mind absolutely need time to unplug and decompress, particularly after a day of wine tasting. Give yourself time to rest and recuperate. You’ll be able to better appreciate the trip when you’re energized for the day ahead.