As a wine writer, I get asked all the time how I navigate the bigger wine events, such as August's Family Winemakers in San Francisco, which features 250 wineries pouring about 800 wines. There are some tricks. Particularly in the summer, when many events take place under the hot sun, it's important to follow some logical rules. Here are five.

1. Go in with a plan

Are you just going to stick to new wines? Whites? Santa Barbara pinots? It may sound limiting, especially when you've spent your hard-earned money on a pricey ticket and want the bragging rights of attendance and wine discovery, but you'd be surprised. Narrowing it down still affords you plenty of opportunities for discovery.

2. Spit or dump

You will not offend the winery. Remember, you are trying the wines, not drinking them. Drinking wine, as in consuming it and hearing it swash around in your belly, is best done at home.

3. Drink water

If you swallow 25 1-ounce pours, you have consumed an entire bottle of wine and that means you need twice the amount of water. Most large scale events provide bottled water. If you're not sure, bring your own and alternate sips.

4. Eat

The great majority of wine events incorporate a food component into their tasting or at the very least provide cheese, crackers and fruit. Hoard the offerings or bring a snack or energy bar with you to nibble on mid-tasting.


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5. Stay out of the sun

If it's unavoidable and you want to enjoy your glass of rose on an estate's gorgeous open lawn, wear a hat and sunscreen and reapply every few hours even on overcast days.