Posts Tagged wine tasting etiquette

Tasting Room Etiquette

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.

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Mrs. Vino’s Rant

Mrs. Vino considers herself to be a pretty easy-going person with a philosophy of “Live and Let Live.”  But there is one thing that I just cannot stand:   Bachelorettes.  Over the past 5+ years, Morovino’s tasting room has seen many Bachelorette parties.    In almost every case, Bachelorettes have been rude, whiny and obnoxious.  We’ve seen far fewer Bachelor parties than Bachelorette parties, but HANDS DOWN I’d rather pour for a group of tipsy bachelors than bitchy bachelorettes.  Even the bachelor party that insisted on paying for a wine tasting for the blow up doll and the bachelor party that offered to let me autograph the bachelor’s . . . appendage were preferable to 99% of the bachelorette parties I’ve worked.

Bachelorettes, I’m sorry if this post offends you (OK, actually I’m not really sorry).  But Mrs. Vino is here to help.  If you are a Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid or Friend planning a Bachelorette party at a winery or wine tasting room- here are a couple of suggestions and guidelines that will help make you a welcomed guest instead of a nuisance – resulting in a fun time for all!  Non-bachelorettes, these rules are also true for wine tasting with any group of over 6 people.

1.  Call in advance – if you are bringing 7+ people to a tasting room on a busy weekend afternoon, please call in advance to let them know you are coming.  In addition to this is just being good manners, the tasting room staff can then ensure that they are adequately staffed and prepared to give your group excellent service.    The follow up to this is please show up when you said you were going to show up.

2.  Many Wine Tasting Rooms are Family Venues – so please don’t put your penis-shaped wine charms on the glasses without asking first if it is appropriate.  And please don’t wear your penis-shaped tiara unless you check first to see if kids are present.

3.  Expect to Pay for Wine Tasting – in today’s challenging economic climate, many wineries are using complimentary or discounted tasting coupons to introduce their wines to new customers.  In general, tasting coupons are not intended to be used by large groups.  Don’t be bitchy if we expect you to pay for wine tasting.

4.  Don’t Bring In Your Own Food – without checking first.  You may want to take a cupcake break, but please don’t bring out food without the permission of the tasting room staff.

5.  Remember the Tasting Room is a Business – please keep your volume and your pitch down to normal social levels.

6.  Buy Wine – I understand that wine tasting is recreation for you.  But wine sales are my livelihood.  In the past 5+ years, more than 90% of the time bachelorette parties leave without making a single bottle purchase.  If you are paying less than $10 for a wine tasting, that fee does NOT cover the actual cost of pouring a tasting flight for you.  That’s right ladies, pouring for you actually loses me money.

And the exception:  Several weeks ago we had a delightful group of bachelorettes in the tasting room.  They were polite. They were considerate.  They were charming.  They expected to pay for their wine tasting.  Each of the seven bachelorettes walked out with a bottle and we were delighted to comp the tasting for the entire group.  Ladies, you know who you were and we appreciated you!

Mrs. Vino is sorry if she sounds bitter, but having 3 back-to-back unexpected bachelorette parties through the tasting room just did me in.  It’s so frustrating to watch wine buyers (carrying bags and boxes from other local tasting rooms) come up to my door, then turn away when they see the penis-bedecked bachelor girls taking over the tasting bar.

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