Going to winery tasting rooms is a great way to discover new favorites and have some fun. Most of the time, it all goes swimmingly. Here are five tasting-room etiquette tips to keep in mind, so “most of the time” can be “all the time.”
The winery may be open until 5 p.m., but if you walk in 10 minutes before closing time, don’t expect to be served the entire tasting menu. In fact, some wineries won’t serve anyone who arrives 15 — or even 30 minutes — before closing. If the staff offers latecomers a taste or two, they’re being gracious. Don’t ask them to open a new bottle of their high-end cabernet.
You’re having a great time and there’s more wine in your glass. But it’s 15 minutes past official closing. The staff will let you hang out while they’re getting ready to leave. But when all the glassware has been put away, bottles recorked and stashed, it’s time for you to head out. Some winery hours are dictated by permit, and the staff needs to close according to the posted hour.
You joined the wine club and can taste for free. But some folks abuse the privilege: They hog the bar, ask staff to open special or older vintages, then leave empty-handed. While the staff is always happy to host members, it’s a nice gesture to buy at least one bottle — even if it’s the least expensive one on the list — when you’ve received special attention. Besides, you get a club discount.
While many wineries welcome families, some have adopted a no-underage visitor policy in their tasting rooms. Check before you go, and realize that the no-underage visitors policy is a response to parents whose backs are turned as their kids wander into mischievous or dangerous situations. If you bring children, keep a watchful eye on them at all times.
When you ask questions and show real interest, the staff may pour an extra taste or two of something special. Some politely decline. Don’t push the issue. The winery may have a strict policy or license dictating how much wine they can pour for each guest. And if staff think you’ve imbibed too much, they can cut you off.
By: Mary Orlin