We are lucky enough to get a number of newer wine tasters in the tasting room. If you haven’t visited a wine tasting room before (or even if you have), here are some great tips on things to do (and not do) to ensure that you (and those around you) have an enjoyable experience. And, since Mrs. Vino doesn’t want you to think this is another “Rant,” in an effort to be balanced, I will soon post my thoughts on a “Wine Tasters Bill of Rights,” things that ALL wine tasters should be entitled to in a wine tasting experience.
WINE TASTING ETIQUETTE
1. Please come to the tasting room unscented. Nothing is going to mess up the experience for your fellow tasters faster than overuse of perfume or cologne. About 75% of wine tasting is experienced through the sense of smell and heavy perfumes can completely overwhelm the aromas of wine.
2. In a related note, if you are going to smoke, please do so at least 20 feet away from the tasting room door. And, please, give yourself a minute to air out before you walk back in the tasting room. You may not notice the smell of smoke on your clothes, but your fellow tasters will.
3. If you can’t be nice, be vague! Some wines you are going to like and some wines you are not going to like. Since wine tasting is a collaborative experience your comments effect the experience of everyone in the tasting room. Please avoid making overly negative “witty” comments about the wine. While leather and barnyard notes in a wine may not work for you, they might be delightful to the person standing next to you. Your negative comments will color their experience of the wine – a simple “This really isn’t my style of wine” or “This is not the wine for my palate” shows class and intelligence.
4. Use your “inside” voice. I fully appreciate that wine tasting is a social experience, and it’s natural that the more wine consumed, the higher the level of volume in the tasting room. Please remember that while your party is enjoying itself on the left side of the bar, on the right side of the bar I might be trying to discuss our wines with other guests or sign up a wine club member.
5. If you are coming in a group, please make sure to notify the tasting room in advance so we can make sure that we have adequate staff to ensure your experience is enjoyable, educational and entertaining. (Please see previous rant).
6. If the tasting bar is full, step up to the bar, get your taste and a brief overview of the wine, then step back and let someone else have an opportunity. Or better yet, come on a weekday. When things are less busy you will have much more of an opportunity to chat with the tasting room host or hostess.
7. Everyone savors at different speeds. But shooting the wine like whiskey tells the tasting room host/hostess that you are really only in it for the buzz. Taking a little time to finish your wine sample may actually net you a slightly larger pour or, maybe an extra taste or two.
8. Crackers (or other foods) are provided to clear you palate between wines. They are not “snacks.” And they certainly are not “lunch.” And, by no means should you put the bowl down on the floor and feed them to your dog. (Oh yes, yes indeed, it has happened.)
9. Visitors new to the tasting experience (and those who have been tasting all day) should avoid over-enthusiastic swirling. If you keep the base of the wine glass on the bar while you swirl, you can avoid “decorating” your neighbors and yourself with the wine in your glass.
10. We know that wine tasting is recreation for you. But selling wine is my livelihood. If you enjoyed one of more of the wines, please consider purchasing a bottle or two. In most cases the cost of the tasting does not cover the cost to pour you a flight. Support your small local wineries that are passionate about bringing you amazing handcrafted vintages.
Tasting room staff really appreciate a patient, polite visitor. Being a gracious guest may reward you with additional tastes, discounts, recommendations and much more.
Next Up: Wine Tasters Bill of Rights. Some thoughts on what you are entitled to at every tasting room you visit.