Tasting Notes: Barrel Tasting, Gifts, “Holiday in the Hills”

This is a unique opportunity to sample wine straight from the barrel before it is finished. It gives you a chance to learn how wine ages. The wine is drawn from the barrel with a long glass tube, or “thief,” and poured into your glass by the winemaker.

Sometimes barrel tasting is a themed event, with a chance to buy the wine at a discount before it is bottled known as a “futures party.” The wine is often paired with gourmet appetizers or desserts.

On October 20, Pilot Peak Winery is holding a “Barrel Tasting Extravaganza and Futures Party” at its tasting room in Penn Valley. You’ll get to taste a 2010 Petite Sirah, 2010 Tempranillo, 2010 Mourvedre, and 2012 Viognier.

Wine and food pairings will be offered, and “you will own the wine at the lowest price possible.” Informal, spur-of-the-moment barrel tasting is fun. It is a great chance to learn from the winemaker. Try Bent Metal, Montoliva, Nevada City Winery, Pilot Peak and Solune. We recommend calling ahead to make arrangements. The harvest season is an ideal time to enjoy a barrel tasting experience. Bring a picnic to the winery.

The Placer County Wine Trail’s annual “Holiday in the Hills” wine tasting event is December 8-9. Get a head start on your holiday shopping and discover new wines. Visit PlacerWine.com for more information.

Many wine tasting rooms include gift shops, well stocked for holiday gift giving. They include Avanguardia, Bent Metal, Grass Valley Wine Co., Indian Springs, Lucchesi, Nevada City Winery, Sierra Knolls’ Bear River Wine Tasting and Sierra Starr.

Gifts include decorative wine glasses, wine racks, serving platters, artwork, candy, spices, sauces and marinades. One of our favorites: Animal-shaped wine holders at Indian Springs Tasting Room in Nevada City.

On January 12, take a break from an incredible weekend of watching films during the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City to sample foothill wines.

Wineries include Nevada City Winery, Indian Springs, Szabo and Clavey. Tickets will be available through the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at 530-265-2692.

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