Who doesn’t like a wine tasting? Even better, a weekend away amongst the vines and the people that make it all happen? There’s something exotic and wondrous about driving through a wine region, passing the vines that tell the history of fashion and fortune, and walking through a cellar door with anticipation of great wine to taste.

All the brochures in the tourist centres portray the ideal image of a wine tasting: smiling and laughing people, holding wine glasses and picnic baskets, enjoying tastings amongst the barrels and/or the vines. Without putting too fine a point on it (and at the risk of generalising) this is a long way from reality.

A real wine tasting starts in that room you walked through from the car park. What happens next depends on the conversation; a conversation with someone that may, or may not, know something about the wine. What the stock images fail to capture is that a great wine tasting is actually a great conversation that evolves and unfolds. Obviously the more the person knows about the wine, the closer they are to the process, the better it will be; likewise, it depends on your conversation skills. You don’t actually have to know anything about wine, but you do have to have a genuine interest. Like any great conversation, the more each person knows, the better it is.

And so, as the conversation unfolds, so too does the wine tasting. If it is a great conversation you get to try special bottles, back vintages, experiments the winemaker is doing, you get invited to do a tour of the barrels. If the conversation isn’t so great, you’ll still taste some wine and leave for the next place with that same sense of anticipation. What you’ll also have is an experience and knowledge to inform your next conversation. What you do with it is up to you, but it’s your key to the wine tasting that you’ll tell your friends about, most probably while sharing the great bottle you found. Bliss.