Wine tasting can be a little intimidating if you’ve never done it before—but it shouldn’t be! That’s why we’ve drafted up a quick primer on what to expect in the tasting room, as well as the general dos and don’ts to ensure you have the best wine tasting experience possible.
Before Your Arrive
Before you even head to the winery, it is important to make a reservation. This ensures that you’re able to go where you want and that the winery can accommodate you and your party. Reservations also help you structure your wine tasting experience, as some wineries even offer tours. Once you have the reservations set, it is time to find the perfect outfit. Dressing in comfortable and casually elegant clothing sets the tone for a sophisticated tasting room and shows respect for the experience. Keep in mind not to wear heavily scented perfume or cologne, as the scents can overshadow the subtle aromas in the wine.
The Tasting Room
As you enter the tasting room and head to the tasting bar, you will be set up with wine glasses and told the wines that are available for tasting. Make sure to pay attention to these details, as they include important information, such as tasting fees and information about the winery. Now it’s time to taste the wine. White wines are tasted first, followed by red wines and ending with dessert wines.
Swirl, Sniff & Spit
As you taste each wine, don’t forget to look, swirl, smell and sip. Swirling oxygenates the wine, thus helping the aroma to open. This allows you to note the subtle fragrances of the wine when you smell. These aromas become flavors when you sip. To detect all the flavors, roll the wine in your mouth so that it covers all tastebuds. Once you have sipped the wine you have two options: you can swallow or use a tasting bucket. Spitting out the wine allows you to taste and appreciate the flavors of each wine while remaining alert. The tasting bucket is also a place to pour out the unwanted wine in your glass (you do not have to finish every glass).
Some Etiquette Notes
If you don’t feel like spitting out the wine, make sure you eat something substantial before you begin tasting so that you are not tasting on an empty stomach. While there are typically snacks at the tasting, they are meant to cleanse the palate, not fill you up. With all the tasting, it can be easy to enjoy yourself a little too much. Remember that you are at a winery, not a bar, so keep the loud banter to a minimum and always make sure you have a designated driver.
Wine tasting is meant to be a fun and informational experience. With these tips in mind, you can focus on the wine and making memories rather than how to behave.