The Wine Tasting Faux Pas You Didn't Know You Were Breaking

There's something special and elusive about a person who can taste the difference between a $2 bottle of wine and a $200 bottle. If that's not you, that's okay because whether you can or can't, you can still enjoy going to a winery. Whether it's Napa or the Willamette Valley or all the way across the globe in Tuscany, a day spent at a winery is certainly an enjoyable one. You get to soak in the beauty and, hopefully, good weather of the region, in a stunning setting all while getting a mini history lesson and sipping along on glass after glass of local wines.

Wine tastings are an informative and enjoyable way to experience a winery or even a nice restaurant, but there's a very special set of both manners and skills required to master wine tasting. Of course, you can always fake it until you make it, but there are some strict guidelines to follow that will impact not only your experience but those you're drinking with.

What not to do during a wine tasting

Most people are at least loosely familiar with what to do when you're handed a glass of wine to taste. Sniff it, swirl it, swish it, and swallow it (plus a few other little things). Simple enough right? But as Food & Wine suggests, the act of tasting wine is meant to be a complete sensory experience that invokes all of your senses, not just taste. Especially if you are sipping alongside other people. 

That being said, you'll want to skip the spritz of perfume or cologne for that day. This may seem random, but if you've ever eaten food with a stuffy nose you know how important your sense of smell is. Having perfume or cologne on you or in the air around you can mask the delicate smells that come from the wine, which are an important part of savoring the pour.

Other than being mindful of your odors, good or bad, a general sense of common courtesy goes a long way at a wine tasting. Things like making a reservation and not over-crowding your day will ensure you have an enjoyable experience at any winery. Do your best to exercise patience both during the tasting and in between wineries so you don't end up over-served.

More tips for an enjoyable wine tasting experience

Another way to help to maximize the wine-tasting experience is following the pour order. Per VinePair, there is actual science behind the order you taste the wines and the wine professional is there, not only to pour but to ensure you have the best experience.

Another tip when visiting a winery is to wait to ask questions until everyone has received their pour. This advice comes from Macari Vineyards wine professional Lauren Hoey, who tells Food & Wine "We love questions, but ask them in an inquisitive, respectful way rather than just interrogating the host."

Most things to remember are just common courtesy so you don't need to feel nervous. Wine is best enjoyed paired with good food and good friends, so there's no need to overthink it. 

After you return from said wineries, you may be inclined to host a wine-tasting evening of your own to impress your friends with your new knowledge. Or, perhaps you'll just throw a regular party with lots of wine.