Wine Tastings & Touring New Towns

My first experience doing a wine tasting was at a dear friend’s bachelorette party, when we did a marathon session at five different vineyards in the Midwest, starting at the early hour of 11 a.m. (Don’t worry. We were safely D.D.ed by our handy-dandy limo driver.)

Needless to say, by the time the tasting portion of the day was starting to wine-d (get it?!) down, I was very ready to stop sipping and get something more than cheese and crackers in my stomach. But I was also pretty sold on this “tasting” thing. It was like a little adventure in a glass–you never knew what flavors awaited you in the next sample.

But I’m not into doing tastings solo, so my opportunities have been pretty few and far between–living overseas for long stretches and often being far from family and friends has that effect. But I’ve rustled up the occasional partner in crime. My bro invited me to join him and his friends at a lovely Texas winery. And on her recent odyssey to visit us in our new homestead in the D.C. area, my sis-in-law Brooke was good enough to accompany me to Great Shoals. (We abandoned the husbands at home. #SorryNotSorry.)

Purveyor of wines and ciders, Great Shoals is a Maryland-centric entity and draws most of its fruit from the Chesapeake Watershed area. Our foray to their Takoma Park, MD tasting room marked my first dip into East Coast wines, and a fun way to get to know our newest not-so-Foreign Service post.

Great Shoals’ tastings offer your choice of three set flights–dry, sweet, or Captain’s Choice (a mix of both). Our bartender wound up giving us a bit of everything, so we were able to sample everything from sweet wines to dry to a variety of ciders. Overall, the evening received an A+ score. They even had a special on their drink board named in my honor (kind of 😉 ):

Drinks Menu

Best of all, my co-conspirator’s company was superb, and she even treated me to a bottle of Great Shoals’ Riptide vino.

Being a surfer/swimmer/beach-bum/lover of all things water-related, I adore the wine’s name (and thought it was awesome that so many of winery’s vintages–Atlantic, Shipwreck, Sailor’s Delight–were ocean-centric). And it’s quite tasty, too! I know when I like a wine, but my palate’s far from sophisticated; while tasting wines, I’m known to offer eloquent reviews like “Yummy!” or “Bleck!” But I can actually taste the advertised notes of honeysuckle in Riptide, a wine cultivated from native-to-North-America Niagara grapes.

There are a ton of wineries in this region, so I’ll probably explore a different tasting room the next time I can talk someone into joining. But if you’re looking for a place in the area to sip something new, Great Shoals is well-worth a try!

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