Wine Tasting Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts

Ms. Wine-Manners goes tasting


Picture this. You’re standing at a tasting, in front of a winemaker. You’ve just taken a sip of his wines and are about to spit so you can talk to him about how amazing the wines are. Just then, someone butts in front of you, blocking the spit bucket. You gulp… narrowly avoiding a dry-cleaning bill.

As anyone who’s gone to a lot of wine tastings knows, there’s an unspoken etiquette involved. Following it will make the tasting more enjoyable.

So, before you go to your next tasting, here are some highlights of Wine Etiquette 101:

• Remember to not hog the table. Once you get a sip of wine, you should then move to the side or out of the way so that others can be poured. If you want to ask the winemaker a question, move to the side then wait for a moment when there are fewer people.

• Don't carry a big purse or computer case into the tasting. Bumping other tasters with your stuff as they balance wine glasses can make the tasting less enjoyable.

• When you ask for a taste, ask for the wine by name or varietal.

• It is not necessary to rinse your glass with water between each wine (or even each table). Water has a big diluting effect on the wine to come. You only need to rinse your glass with water is if the wine you just tried was flawed. Shake the water out well (or dry the glass) before moving on.

• Spit. Don't be afraid to spit. At a tasting you are not expected to drink or like every wine poured for you.

• Don’t stand in front of the spit bucket or block other’s access to it (this should seem like basic self-preservation).

• Be considerate of all comments while in front of the producer.

• Know when it’s time to move to the next table.

• Don’t stand at the food table scarfing down all the cheese and appetizers. This is a wine tasting; not dinner.

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