Wine Tasting Etiquette - Things to Avoid

Last time we addressed all the things you should do when visiting a winery and tasting their wines.  Along with all the things that you should do, there are also some things that you really shouldn't do while wine tasting.  Avoiding these will ensure that you have an enjoyable experience at the winery.

What you should avoid when wine tasting:

  • Don't put on cologne, aftershave or perfumes. You, and those around you, are going to want to smell the aromas of the wines, not strong personal scents.
  • For the same reason as avoiding wearing strong scents, don't introduce anything else into the tasting room that has a strong smell. So, don't walk in with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Leave it in the car or outside.
  • Avoid chewing gum or breath mints.  These will really affect your ability to taste the subtle flavors of the wines.
  • When you arrive at the winery, it may be very tempting to take a walk in the vineyards, pick a grape, or poke around some of the other buildings at the winery.  Check with your host in the tasting room to see if tours of the winery are available.
  • Since wine tasting is an adult activity, leave the kids at home.
  • While winery dogs are very common, leave your pets at home.
  • Don't assume your tasting room host is going to be an all-knowing wine expert.  You may get lucky and have the winemaker as your host, or you may get a college kid earning some extra spending money. 
  • It's a winery tasting room, not a bar.  Conduct yourself with some sophistication. Avoid being loud and trying to turn the activity into a party.
  • Don't try to haggle over prices of the tasting or a wine purchase. Save it for the car dealership.
  • Never reach for the wine bottle and pour your own taste. Let your server do all the pouring.
  • If you are on a tour bus that is serving alcohol, avoid it.  If you arrive at a tasting room and appear to be intoxicated, you will not be served. It's against the law to serve someone who is intoxicated.  And, please don't walk into a tasting room with a beer, glass of wine or a cocktail.
  • If you choose to have lunch at a winery's picnic grounds, you may only drink wine purchased at that winery. No outside wines may be consumed on their property.

Following this simple list of things to avoid and those posted last time in "Wine Tasting Etiquette - Things to Do" will ensure that your visit is pleasurable for you, those working at the winery, and your fellow wine tasters.  There's no better way to learn about the world of wines than to get out into wine country and visit the wonderful wineries they have to offer. Cheers!

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!