There are certain basic rules of wine tasting etiquette whether you’re at a party or travelling around Southwest wine country. Wine tasting can be a fun and interesting experience! Taking cellar tours and wine tastings, learning about the terrior and experiencing the beauty of the vineyards and the grapevines brings a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into making each wonderful bottle of wine.
Many people are intimidated by the thought of a wine tasting and avoid wine tasting rooms altogether. But at wine tastings, be they at a winery, a wine store or at a house party, you will learn so much and will make new friends who share your interest in tasting wine.
Wine tasting for beginners starts here! Familiarize yourself with these wine tasting etiquette tips to help you to become more comfortable as you advance from a novice wine taster to a wine connoisseur.
Wine Tasting Tips
Enter a wine tasting room and expect to be greeted by a wine pourer or even by the winemaker or owner. They are there to talk about the winery, the grapes that are grown, types of wine they make and which wines are available to taste. It is improper wine tasting etiquette to ignore these details as they are part of the overall wine tasting experience. Greeters can immediately tell if a visitor is there only for a drink and not truly interested in the types of wines offered.
Here you will learn how many wines are offered for tasting and what the price is to taste the wines. 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.
It is not proper wine tasting etiquette to ask for bottles to be opened that are not part of the tasting menu. In our own wine tasting experiences, we have often been asked to taste wines that are not on the wine tasting menu (sometimes called special reserve) or to taste barrel wines that are available to purchase as wine futures. These instances are exceptions and not the rule and were initiated by the staff member or winery owner. If you are fortunate enough to be offered these types of wine tastings, be sure to thank them for their courtesy.
One of the basics of wine tasting is to understand that the wine poured is a tasting pour. So, don’t expect to receive a full glass of wine and do not ask for more than a tasting pour as it is not proper wine tasting etiquette to do so. We once went to a wine tasting room where a group of six visitors wanted to share one wine tasting. This too is improper wine tasting etiquette. It would be in better taste to purchase a full bottle of wine for the group to enjoy.
Tasting the Wine
The basics of wine tasting, whether it is in a tasting room, wine store or at a party, include how to taste the wines. Here are some fundamental facts about wine tasting:
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 colorchanges 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.