Wine Tasting Etiquette - Things to Do

Visiting a winery and tasting their wines is a wonderful experience.  But, it's not like going out to a bar.  Wineries are most often small businesses. When you go into a winery's tasting room, you are a guest at a place of business. And, therefore, there are certain norms of behavior when visiting.  While tasting room etiquette may seem to take some of the fun out of a visit, it shouldn't.  You should have fun and enjoy your visit.  But, there are a few things to keep in mind.

What you should do when wine tasting:

  • Wine tasting is an adult activity. Be classy and act like an adult.
  • There is a subtle sophistication that goes along with wine tasting. Look nice for your visit.
  • Take your valid ID with you. You'll only be served if you are of legal drinking age.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. A vineyard tour or barrel room tour will require comfortable, sturdy shoes.
  • If you would like to have a picnic lunch at a winery, please ask before eating on their grounds.
  • Make reservations if you have a large group (greater than 5 or more).
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water in between winery visits.
  • Eat in between winery visits.
  • Pay attention to your host. Ask good questions. Learn.
  • If the tasting bar is crowded, make room for new arriving guests.
  • Do feel free to use the bucket to dump your glass, if you choose not to finish the tasting, or to spit out the wine. Or you can ask for a cup, if you'd like to be more discrete with your spitting.
  • Be polite to your host and express your gratitude for their service. 
  • Tipping your host is not expected. But, buying a bottle of wine is a great way of expressing your gratitude.
  • If you did take a large group or receive some special treatment, then you can consider tipping your host.
  • If you must take your children to a tasting room (which is really discouraged), do supervise them.
  • If your tasting was complimentary, seriously consider buying a bottle of wine.
  • Another way to express your gratitude to your host is to send an email or a message through social media to the winery and give special thanks to your host.
  • Do 'revisits' of wines when you are serious about re-evaluating a wine that you are considering purchasing.
  • After completing your visit, ask your host for recommendations of other wineries to visit. They are usually very good about making recommendations based on your preferences and they may also provide you with coupons or referral cards.

While you should do the items listed above, there are also a number of things that you should not do while visiting a winery's tasting room.  We'll get to those next time.  For now, happy wine tasting!  Cheers!