Wine Tasting Etiquette
Tips to Help You Taste Like a Pro
Wine tasting etiquette is important when sampling on your own or in a group. There are a few key process steps to follow to help you get the most out of your experience.
The basics include how you smell and taste the wines. You will find these and more included in the tasting tips outlined below.
Wine Tasting Etiquette – Steps for Tasting
Wine tasting should be a fun experience. The goal is to learn a little more about each one and determine if you enjoy it or not. This process allows you to understand the characteristics to look for in your future wines.
Once the host or server pours your glass, you want to follow these wine tasting etiquette steps:
- Swirl It: Gently swirl it around in your glass. Look at the colors of it. Is it a light or heavy one? If red, is it a ruby red color, more of a purple color or is it light red in color? This step shows you the weight and intensity of it.
- Smell It: Take a long sniff to get a sense of aromas. The aroma is important as it works closely with the flavors. Both your sense of smell and taste create a complete view of the overall characteristics. I usually do this a couple of times to get a sense of all of the aromas.
- Taste It: Now it is time to take a small sip. On your first sip, swirl it around your mouth just a little before swallowing. You want it to hit all of your taste buds in order to get the full flavor.
- Swallow It : The final step is to swallow it. At this point, you will get the feel for how long the flavors stay around in your mouth. Sometimes the flavor goes away immediately; sometimes it will linger for a little while. This is the finish. The longer the flavors linger, the longer the finish is on it. Most wine lovers like a long finish on their wines so they can continue to enjoy the flavors after they have swallowed it.
- Spit It Into The Dispenser: An alternative to swallowing the wine is to spit it into the designated spit container. Do not be ashamed of spitting it out. This is the best way to enjoy a large number of wines without drinking too much in one day. This is how the professionals try hundreds of different wines in one day –- and why they are still able to remember them!
- Smell and Sip a Second Time: I like to repeat the process again. Wine tasting etiquette is to enjoy yours slowly, instead of quickly drinking it. Take another smell. Now that you had a drink, are there any new flavors that stick out in the aroma? Take a second sip. Do you taste any new flavors?
- Finish or Dump the Remaining Amount: Once you taste it a couple of times, you have two options: finish what is left in the glass or dump it into the container. Both are proper wine tasting etiquette practices. Even if I like it, sometimes I will dump the remaining amount, so I can try more wines that day. This is a personal decision, but either option is okay.
- Clean Your Palate: You are now ready to taste the next one. Before taking a drink of the next one, you want to clean your palate. You do this by eating some of the bread or crackers sitting on the table or counter in front of you. These are not snacks, but designed to help you clear the flavors out of your mouth between wines. They do not have a lot of taste or salt on them, but will clear away your previous taste.
- Sample the Next One: Once your group and you are ready, request the next one. Most of the time you do not need to clean your glass in between wines. You will just want to make sure you drink or dump out the remaining amount in your glass. Even if there is a small amount in your glass, it is not enough to influence the flavors and aromas of your next wine.
Follow the wine tasting etiquette process above for all wines. I always like to stay on the same wine as the person or people in my group. This allows for some conversation around each wine. It also helps you learn about what others like and dislike about each one.
Additional Wine Tasting Etiquette Tips
In addition to the wine tasting etiquette process above, there are a few additional things to keep in mind before or during your tasting.
- No Perfume: Do not wear any perfume or perfumed lotions to a tasting. You want the full scent of the aromas to stand out. Perfume can affect the aromas. If you are a faithful perfume wearer, you may not notice it and think it is not as important. However, those around you will not be used to the scent of your perfume and it could interfere with their experience. To follow proper wine tasting etiquette and be consider to others, leave your beautiful smelling perfume at home the day of the event.
- Eat Before: Make sure you eat before tasting. Drinking on an empty stomach increases the impact of the alcohol on your body, so you want a full stomach. If you ate or drank right before you arrived, you also want to clean your palate before your first one.
- Eat During Tasting: It is okay to eat while drinking. However, make sure you are only eating items that pair well together. You want to make sure neither the wine nor the food over power the other. This is wine tasting etiquette you want to keep in mind if you taste and eat at the same time. If you are not sure how the food pairs with the wine, then ask the person serving. They are your best resource.
- Tasting at a Winery: I like to review the entire list of wines available before I start tasting at a winery. If there are wines on more than one list that I would like to taste, I ask if I can taste a combination of different wines that day. They usually say yes. For me, I really like reds. If each tasting offers some reds and whites, I will only taste reds. If there is a certain one I want to buy, I also ask if they have a bottle open –- even if it is not on the menu. Often they have additional bottles open so you can taste one you are thiking about buying.
- Share a Tasting: It is also okay to share a tasting at a winery or event. They usually only give you one glass, but it is a great way to only taste a small sample of the wines. They still only give you enough for one tasting, but it is usually enough for two people to get a good sense of the wine.
Follow this wine tasting etiquette process and these tips for a successful tasting. Overall, you should enjoy your day of tasting and these tips will ensure you are able to taste like a pro.
Here are some additional pages you might enjoy:
Ordering in a Restaurant: Is your plan to try a wine at a restaurant? Follow these wine tasting rules when tasting a glass or ordering a bottle of wine in a restaurant.
Tasting Party Ideas: Are you interested in hosting a wine tasting party? If so, find some great tips for hosting a wine tasting party including setting a budget, setting up the wines for tasting and calculating the amount of wine you need for your guests.
Serving Temperature: Are you serving wine and need to understand the serving temperature? Discover the proper wine tasting temperature for the different types of red wine.
Additional Pages You Might Enjoy
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