Wine Tasting Etiquette

Wine Tasting Tips

Before you go

Avoid smoking or wearing heavy perfumes or after-shave lotions when you attend a wine tasting. Avoid using them when attending a wine tasting.

Gum and breath mints alter the taste of wine during wine tastings. Avoid using them when attending a wine tasting.

Eat something substantial before going to a wine tasting. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly on a full stomach than an empty stomach.

Research the wineries you will visit.  Wine tasting prices vary from tasting room to tasting room. Some offer several tastes and some offer just a few. Some but not all tasting rooms include a souvenir glass as part of the tasting. It is not proper wine tasting etiquette to ask for a tasting of wine for free.

Tasting the Wine

1.) When the wine is poured, look at it, especially around the edges. Holding the glass by the stem and tilting the glass makes it easier to see the way the color changes from the center to the edges.

2.) Sniff the wine so that you can compare the fragrance after swirling it.

3.) Gently swirl the wine in the glass. This increases the surface area of the wine allowing it to reach your nose. It also allows for oxygen into the wine, helping the aroma to open up.

4.) While swirling the wine, note how slowly it runs back down the side of the glass. This is how you note the wine’s Viscosity. More viscous wines are known to have “legs” and are most likely to have higher alcohol content.

5.) Sniff. Hold the wine glass a few inches from your nose and then let your nose go into the wine glass. Note any fragrance you may smell.

6.) Sip. Take a sip of the wine and roll it in your mouth before swallowing to make sure that it is exposed to all of your taste buds. You may detect sweet, sour, savory, bitter or salty. Here is where you may also detect texture.

7.) Aspirate through the wine. Pursing your lips, draw some air into your mouth and exhale through the nose. This process opens the aromas of the wine, allowing them to reach your nose. The nose is the only place where you can truly detect the aroma of the wine.

8.) Take a second sip of the wine. This time, bring in some air as you sip. Note any subtle differences in flavor or texture.

9.) After swallowing, note the aftertaste and how long the finish lasts.

10.) Write down your experience. Most wine tasting rooms will provide a wine tasting scorecard or sheet to jot down your impressions of the wine you tasted. Wines have four basic characteristics: taste, tannins, alcohol and acidity. A good wine will have a distinct balance of all four characteristics. Aging the wine softens the Tannins. Acidity will soften during the lifetime of the wine. Alcohol stays the same no matter how old the wine gets.

It’s NOT OK to

Ask for more than a tasting pour.

Ask for bottles to be opened that are not part of the tasting menu.

Take handfuls of small snacks such as wine crackers or plain pieces of bread offered to cleanse the palate after tasting the wines snacks.

Express your opinions publicly. So maybe the wine you tasted wasn’t exactly what you liked. If so, keep your opinion to yourself until others in your group have had a chance to taste.

Get “tipsy” at a wine tasting. If you know that you will taste several wines, appoint a designated driver to get you home safely. If you’re touring with a group, consider hiring a wine tour company or limousine service that can safely take you wine tastings.

Its OK to

Ask the greeter or staff member about the wines they are serving. Listen to them talk about the winery, the grapes that are grown, types of wine they make and which wines are available to taste.

Peruse the wine tasting menu before you head to the tasting counter to get an idea about the wines you’re interested in tasting

Not to finish a particular tasting of wine, if you don’t like it.

Skip any of the wines offered on the wine tasting menu

Spit residual wine into spittoons between wine tastings to avoid overindulgence and deadening the palate. Most wine tasting rooms offer water to cleanse the palate or to rinse the wine glass between tastings, especially when switching from white wines to red wines.

Leave a tip for the wine pourer, if you really enjoyed the wine tasting experience.

Purchase bottles of their wine, if you enjoyed the wine.

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