Erin Doman on September 30, 2015 9 Comments Some people are intimidated by going into a tasting room or winery, but you don’t need to be. People in the wine industry typically love to share their information. A good sommelier is not just there to sell you a product, but are also there to get others to enjoy what they’ve created. Discover new wines and have a lot of fun learning about how they are made. Feel more confident when you get served a fine wine at a business dinner or wedding. Here are some tips for when you go to a tasting room or just out to dinner. When Visiting a Tasting Room 1. Ask Questions Ask questions of the staff, especially when you’re in a wine tasting room. If you don’t know what to ask, start by getting information about the history of the winery and the brand. Take advantage of their training and get them talking about their product. You’ll learn a lot just by listening to how they came to make the wine. 2. Manners Matter Being polite and respectful to your server matters. Professionals in the wine industry take their job very seriously and their knowledge deserves your respect. If you don’t like something, speak up, but use your manners. 3. About Spitting Spitting is okay when wine tasting. When you’re tasting multiple bottles, you have a choice to either overindulge and get overwhelmed by the flavors or to use a spittoon or cup. The buckets at the counter are to pour excess wine into. Use your cup and napkin, then when you’re finished, dump it into the bucket. 4. Revisiting Bottles If you would like to taste a bottle again, the polite way to ask is, “May I revisit….” It is perfectly acceptable to try a wine again when you’re thinking of buying it. 5. Follow Their Rules When you’re at a winery or tasting room, don’t argue with them about their rules. It’s their place, their liability, and their preferences. You set the rules in your own home. Honor their policies. 6. Like Fine Dining A tasting room is more like a fine restaurant. Be sure to behave appropriately. Speak clearly to your server and ask for what you need, but never yell across the room. 7. Portion Size Feel free to request a smaller portion, but don’t place your glass against the bottle to stop the pour. It’s always okay to leave some wine unfinished. 8. Bring a Snack When you’re going to wine tasting, eat something before you go. Alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly. When your stomach is empty, you will feel the effects much quicker, which means you’ll be able to handle less wine than you would on a full stomach. If you’re taking a tour, carry some nuts or some other snack with you. Just make sure that your snack isn’t too pungent, which might interfere with how you taste the wine. 9. Make Appointments Don’t try to visit too many places in one day. Not only will the alcohol make everything begin to blur together, but you won’t be able to truly enjoy the experience. Make appointments with the wineries that you want to visit, three or four in one day is plenty. Take your time and truly appreciate the products. 10. Pace Yourself A wine tasting room or winery is no place to overindulge. You are not there to get drunk. However, alcohol does affect people differently, based on body weight and what they’ve eaten. Always make sure to a approach a wine tasting the safest way possible, know your body and your limits, and be sure to have a plan for a safe driver. 11. Dress for the Occasion When you’re visiting wineries and tasting rooms, make it special. You don’t need to wear a tux, just look like you care about the tasting. A wine tasting isn’t a t-shirt occasion, so make sure you don’t look like you just rolled out of bed. 12. Prices and Policy It’s okay to look for coupons or deals on the tasting. Some wineries offer complimentary tastings, but some charge. Make sure that you know the policies of the winery. 13. Don’t Be Late When visiting a tasting room without an appointment, you need at least 30 minutes or more to truly get a feel for the product. Don’t go into the room 10 or 15 minutes before closing. This is when servers are trying to finish up with customers, and you may not even get served. 14. Avoid Flavor Interference Avoid chewing gum or drinking coffee in between wineries. In fact, it’s best to avoid strong flavors within a few hours of your tasting day. Even brushing your teeth can interfere with the flavors. 15. Avoid Negativity Don’t sit there and bash wines in the tasting room. Simply move on to the next one. Everyone’s palette is different. By making negative comments, you might be ruining another groups’ experience at the wine room. 16. Try Everything Try different varietals. It’s the only way to really get a feel for what you like and don’t like. If you constantly stick with the same few varietals, you will never know what flavors you are missing out on. 17. Leave a Tip Tasting room servers are not bartenders, but you should leave a tip if they’ve been especially helpful. Leaving a tip is always a great way to help build a positive relationship with your local winery, which is a great thing to do if you plan on revisiting. 18. Buy What Your Like Be sure to buy the wine if you like it. Some bottles have a limited production and this might be your only opportunity to purchase this specific variety. 19. Wine Club Terms Read the terms of a wine club if you are asked to join. Sometimes a wine club membership can ensure you get a free wine tasting every time you come back, so it is always good to check! When You’re the Host 20. Uncork Quietly When you’re opening the bottle, do it quietly, without bringing attention to yourself. This is especially important if you plan on serving champagne at your tasting. This isn’t a party; try to avoid sending your cork flying across the room. 21. Pouring Technique Hold the bottle toward the base when you’re pouring it. 22. Equal Portions Don’t pour more into your glass than you do into that of your guests. Try to keep them equal. You want to leave plenty of room in the glass for the wine to breathe. Instead of pouring a full glass, pour just under half. 23. Offer Seconds Always offer seconds to your guests before you pour for yourself. If you are serving a few different varietals, be sure you are pacing the serving so that everyone gets to try everything. 24. Know Your Varieties Although you may not be an expert, you can share how you came to serve this particular bottle. You may even want to have a list of what you’re serving, in case a guest wants to find it for themselves. Drinking Wine 25. Toasting Technique When you’re toasting with wine glasses, be sure to clink bell to bell. This reduces the chance of breakage and spillage. By holding your glass by the stem, you won’t warm up your chilled wine with the heat from your hand. 26. Avoid Messy Glassware Drink from the same location on your wine glass to avoid the mouth marks, especially if you are wearing lipstick. 27. Take Time to Sniff Take the time to sniff the wine, which lets your taste buds pick up the subtle flavors of the wine. If you have a cold, you probably won’t be able to appreciate the wine to its fullest, because taste relies on smell. 28. Take the Time to Taste When taking the first sip, let the wine linger on your taste buds. Don’t drink in full gulps, but let your palette experience the full taste of the wine. The first taste tells you a lot about the wine, but so does the aftertaste. 29. Bring an Offering Bringing a bottle of wine to your hostess or host is always a hit, but don’t be offended if your bottle isn’t shared during the meal. If the dinner was planned with a particular wine and food pairing in mind, your bottle may not fit into that scheme. To have your wine shared during dinner, talk to the host and let them know.