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10 Basic Tips To Know The First Time You Go Wine Tasting

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If you have never gone to a winery for a wine tasting experience you are in for a tasty treat! There is always a first time for everything, including wine tasting. When you start thinking about going wine tasting you may have some basic questions. I’ve listed the 10 basic things to know the first time you go wine tasting.

1. What To Wear

Most wineries are casual dress.  Think classy casual, jeans or shorts and a nice shirt are totally acceptable. Some people like to dress it up a bit if they are going on a wine tasting tour with a group. Nice dress or a more dressed up casual is a good choice. Always remember to wear something comfortable, and it doesn’t need to be fancy.

2. Bring Money With You

Most wineries have a tasting fee of $5 per person, but this is typically not charged if you buy a bottle of wine after your tasting experience.

3. What To Start With

Most often people start with the lightest wines and work their way down to the dark full body reds.  So start with the white wine list, unless you only like red wine; then ask to taste the red wine list.

Some tasting lists may have many different wines to choose from and you can only pick 3 whites and 3 reds, or something like that. And some will have it so you can taste them all on the wine list. Just listen to the pourer and they will explain how it works at that particular winery.

4. Are Kids Allowed?

Children are usually allowed in most winery tasting rooms. Bring something for them to do to keep occupied as a full tasting can take about 20 minutes.

5. Should I Drive After?

If you are just going to 1 winery for a tasting, then you should be fine to drive after as they are only served in 1 once servings. But if you plan to go on a winery tour and visit many wineries at one time, then hire a car or go on a wine tour. Wine tours should be easy to find if you google wine tours and the area you are in.

6. The Basics Of Wine Tasting

Acknowledge when the glass is poured, make eye contact and say thank you.  Listen to what the pourer is saying about each wine and be ready for conversation or to ask any questions you have.

First hold the glass by the stem, not the cup part, and give each wine poured a little gentle swirl. This allows oxygen to get into the wine and brings the bouquet of aromas up from the wine.

Next bring the glass up to your nose and put your nose into the glass and smell the wine. Consider what you smell, can you smell hints of fruit or spices? This is called the “nose” of the wine. The nose of the wine can offer hints of the wines bouquet or aroma.

Then take a sip and swish it for a second so it fills all around your mouth and then swallow. Great wines have rich long complex after tastes. You can wait a minute for another sip to savor the wine and the after taste it brings, then go ahead and finish up your glass. Consider what you can taste in the wine, like fruits, plums, raspberries, blackberries, chocolates, or spices?

7. What’s Your Favorite Wine?

Many wineries ask what your favorite wine is, or what do you want to start with. Be prepared to answer, with what your usual favorite is, or just answer that you are not sure yet so you would like to try them to find out.  If they ask where you would like to start, you can say you’d like to start from the whites and work down the list.

8. Ask Questions

Don’t be shy. Many times you are being served by one of the owners, winemakers, or long time staff that can answer all your questions. There are no dumb questions! Many small business wineries have great history and stories they love to tell their customers. So ask questions like: How long have you been making wine? What wine is your favorite? Where are the grapes grown they use for their wines? What food pairs best with this wine? Etc.

9. Try New Things

If you are new to wines and wine tastings, try a bit of each one on the tasting list. Even if you think you only like whites, or only full body reds, you may be surprised by one of the other types as you try them all. Each one is made with different ingredients and hard work from the winemakers.

Also try new wineries, don’t just stick to one or two you find. Most wineries are laid back, casual and you stand at the counter chatting with the server. But there are some wineries that put on a grand tasting experience with cheeses and chairs and a story for each wine. Go ahead and tour the wine area you are in and find those grand experiences, but also enjoy the small casual wineries as well.

10. Should I Buy Anything?

Buying a bottle is totally your choice. If you find a wine you really like, you can buy a bottle to enjoy later at home. Wine also makes a wonderful present or souvenir if you are wine tasting somewhere far from home. There is no pressure to purchase a bottle, you can taste the wines and pay the tasting fee and leave if you would like. If there is normally a tasting fee many people will buy 1 bottle of whatever they liked best as it’s usually only $10-15 more for the bottle and you are not charged the tasting fee. Although I have gone to wine tastings and have left without buying a bottle because I didn’t find anything I really wanted to take home.

We hope that these basic tips help answer your questions about wine tasting for the first time you go. Make sure to plan it out, and it’s always fun to go with friends or family. Go as a group and have designated drivers so you can make an afternoon of it and stop at a few different wineries. Most inportant tip – have fun!



By: Kathryn Alexander

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