Before you visit a wine tasting room for the first time, be sure that you’re prepared for the experience with these tips on wine tasting etiquette and more!
Planning your first wine tasting? Don’t know what to expect?
We’ve got you covered with wine tasting tips that apply to any wine tasting room. You’ll be a pro in no time, so let’s get started.
Learn More About Wine
Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of wine available, so you’ll understand what you’re tasting. Learning the history of the wineries you’re visiting can enhance your experience, especially if you’re taking a tour.
Planning Your Wine Tasting
Don’t let unneeded stress and complications spoil your wine tasting road trip. Proper planning and research will ensure everything goes smoothly. Here are some things you’ll want to consider.
Allow room in your budget for tasting fees, any tours you want to take, winery meals, and wine purchases. Because they can vary, your budget will determine which wineries you’ll want to visit.
Tasting fees vary based on the size of the winery and its location. Of course, going wine tasting in Europe will cost more than in the United States.
Expect to see prices ranging from free to $50 per person. Although, some wineries will waive the cost with a minimum wine purchase.
To save money, check if wine passes are available in your chosen location. A wine pass is a tour of wineries in a package deal. These wine tasting bundles are discounted and are much lower in cost than if you buy each separate.
Also, some establishments require a reservation beforehand, and others allow walk-ins. While you’re checking on prices, find out if reservations are necessary. If so, book them well in advance. Don’t forget to call the winery if you’re going to be late or need to cancel your reservation.
If you plan on visiting more than one wine tasting room, how will you be getting from one tasting to the next? The optimal choice is having a designated driver to take you from one to the other.
You could offer to buy them a bottle of wine for later as payment for not drinking now.
If you don’t have that option, think about booking a personalized driving service or a tour bus. Definitely, don’t drink and drive.
Research the area you’re visiting so you’ll know the distance between the wine tasting rooms. If need be, create an itinerary, allowing enough time between tastings. They usually run a little longer than expected, so plan accordingly.
Winery Tours and Tastings
At many wineries, you’ll be able to add a tour of the place to your itinerary. These happen before the actual tasting.
You’ll learn and see things such as how they make the wine and what it looks like behind the scenes. You might also learn the first-hand history of the winemaker and winery. Some places even offer to let you taste their wines straight from the barrel.
Don’t miss a tour if you can. They make the wine tasting experience unforgettable.
Wine Tasting Room
Once inside the tasting room, don’t be afraid to tell the staff a little more about you. Let them know if you’re brand new to wine tasting and if you know, what kinds of wine you like best. They’ll work to personalize your tasting.
The staff could offer wines that are similar to, or even the opposite of, your usual preference. This way you’ll gain exposure to a variety of wines.
Wine tasting staff are trained in the wine industry and are a perfect option to learn from. Ask any questions you have and engage them in wine conversation.
How to Properly Taste Wine
When it comes time to taste each wine, there’s a step-by-step process to take. It’s not merely sipping and swallowing. If you do these in order, you’ll taste each complex element of the wine.
The four steps of proper wine tasting are: see, swirl, smell, and sip.
- See: First, look for anything floating in the wine. When wine isn’t thoroughly filtered, particles of yeast or other organisms can get left behind. High-quality wines are filtered for impurities and should be clear.
Also, take a moment to notice each wine’s color profile and clarity. Some wines are a deep red, while others may be a pink-red. Each is unique and appreciated as such.
- Swirl: Swirl your wine glass around to let more oxygen in the wine. Oxygen opens up the aromas inside of the wine. Keep swirling it for a few seconds to get the best taste.
- Smell: After swirling, put the cup up to your nose. Your nose should sit right over the edge of the glass. Take a big breath in to inhale the complete variety of aromas.
- Sip: Next, take a sip of wine. Swirl it in your mouth long enough to touch every taste bud before swallowing it.
After swallowing, breathe out through your nose. This action will fill your senses with each complex flavor and aroma at once.
This method of wine tasting may seem a bit strange at first. You’ll come to like it once you experience the difference it makes in really tasting a glass of wine. Don’t feel dumb either; this is the proper technique in the wine industry.
If you find a particular wine that you like in your budget range, buy it. That’s what keeps winemakers in business and makes wine tastings possible.
Keep in mind that some unique or specialty wines are only available at the winery that produces them. Chances are if you don’t buy while you’re there you’ll miss out forever.
When a long way from home and flying back, ship the bottles to your address before you leave your vacation spot. If you ask, most wineries will send them for you too. View here for more on having wines shipped to you.
Wine Tasting Etiquette
So you’ll fit in with the regulars, here’s a list of some standard wine tasting etiquette:
- It may feel rude, but it’s acceptable to spit or dump out the wine you don’t want. Most wine tasting rooms have a bucket for this purpose.
- Tipping is not required, but wine staff does appreciate it. They often make minimum wage.
- Don’t wear perfumes or colognes. Strong external smells throw off the taste of wine. Your fellow tasters won’t like it very much either.
- If you like a particular wine and are considering buying a bottle, you can ask for a second sample.
- Don’t haggle on prices and try to get wine for cheap. High-quality wines are worth the cost and markups are not that high to start. Haggling insults the winemaker.
- Don’t put water in your wine glass. If needing a rinse, the wine staff will do it with the next wine in line.
- Don’t chew gum or breath mints. Their intense flavor overwhelms the wine. It’s pointless to do a wine tasting if you can’t taste the wine over the flavor of your gum.
Wine Tasting Tips
Here are a couple more quick tips related to wine tasting.
Clothing: Wear dark colored clothes in case of spills. Wine does not come out of light colors easy.
Food and Water: Drink plenty of water and eat food between tastings. Doing so will keep you from getting too intoxicated or sick from all the alcohol.
In case it’s hard to find, carry bottles of water with you. If you’re not eating food at a winery, visit a local restaurant or bring snacks along.
Time for a Wine Adventure
There you have it, everything you need to know about visiting a wine tasting room. No one will ever know that you’re not a wine aficionado with dozens of tastings under your belt. Now, what are you waiting for? Get that wine adventure booked.
Where do you want to go? Let us know in the comments below.