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Basic Wine Tasting Etiquette to Make Your First Wine Tour a Success

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Image of a woman drinking wine, representing proper wine tasting etiquette for wine tours and wine tasting events.

Wine tastings and vineyard tours are a wonderful way to expand your knowledge of wine, delight in new cultural adventures, and grow closer with your friends, coworkers, and family. However, if you’ve never been on a wine tour before, you might be wondering what the proper wine tasting and wine tour etiquette is. Let’s talk about how you can make the most of your wine tasting experience by understanding and embracing proper wine tasting etiquette.

Prepare an Outfit That’s Polished Yet Comfortable

When planning a day of wine tasting, comfort is key. However, it is not appropriate to attend a vineyard in the same kind of comfortable clothes that you might otherwise wear to your local Walmart.

We recommend dressing in casual and breathable attire that allows you to move freely between tastings and fully enjoy the experience. Many women commonly wear sundresses with light sweaters and many men commonly dress in khakis or nice jeans and a button-down shirt. However, you are not required to dress in this exact way. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Additionally, we recommend that you avoid wearing strong fragrances that may interfere with the delicate aromas of the wines. Fragrances can distract yourself and others around you from fully experiencing the harmony of a wine’s aroma and taste.

Direct Your Questions to the Tasting Room Staff

The tasting room staff are the gatekeepers to a world of wine knowledge and expertise. Don't hesitate to strike up a conversation with them and seek their recommendations based on your preferences.

Winery staff are there to help guide you through the tasting menu, explain the characteristics of each wine, and even provide insights into the winemaking process and the unique features of the region's terroir (the natural environment where the wine is produced). Engaging with the staff will enrich your understanding and appreciation of the wines you taste.

Understand the Tasting Menu

The tasting menu or flight offers a carefully curated selection of wines for you to explore. One of the best ways to navigate the tasting menu is to understand the progression of flavors of the tasting menu. Some wineries will allow you to select from their tasting menu, others have a predetermined list of wine they will pour.

At wine tastings, it is common to start with lighter wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, and gradually move on to more robust wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. This progression allows your palate to adapt and fully appreciate the nuances of each wine.

Tasting rules: white before red, dry before sweet.

Our Wine Tours by Design team encourages you to take your time with each tasting, allowing the flavors to unfold and leaving you with a delightful experience.

Pay Attention to All Your Senses

Wine tasting is a multi-sensory experience, and engaging all your senses enhances the pleasure of exploring new wines. Begin by observing the color of the wine, swirling gently to release its aromas, and taking in the bouquet before sipping. Allow the wine to coat your palate, exploring the different flavors and textures.

Pay attention to the balance of sweetness, acidity, and tannins in each wine, as they contribute to its overall character. Because wine is so intricate, it’s important that you engage all your senses to fully appreciate the complexity of the wine. Ultimately, this will elevate your wine tasting journey to new heights of enjoyment.

If you don’t care for a particular wine, please don’t express your opinion directly with the person who poured your glass. They have spent countless hours working for the winery and possibly even helped in the winery during harvest or winemaking. Winery staff take pride in their product. It’s fine to let your tour guide know of your opinion on a particular wine as long as you are farther than an earshot away from the winery staff.

Take Notes & Pictures Throughout the Day

If you are visiting multiple vineyards in a day, consider keeping a wine tasting journal or taking notes on your smartphone. You can also take pictures of the bottles you like so that you can easily identify them in the future. Jot down your impressions of each wine, noting the aromas, flavors, and any standout characteristics. This practice will help you remember the wines you enjoyed most and serve as a valuable reference for future wine purchases. Your tasting notes will become cherished mementos of your wine tasting adventure.

Use the Spittoon

Our Wine Tours by Design team sees so many people hesitate or feel embarrassed when it comes to using the spittoon. But we want to assure you that this practice is completely normal in the world of wine tasting.

Spitting is a common practice in wine tasting and does not diminish your appreciation of the wines. It allows you to sample a variety of wines without becoming overwhelmed and ensures you can fully enjoy the entirety of your wine tasting experience. Remember, wine tasting is about savoring the flavors, not necessarily consuming large quantities. There’s no pressure to drink a wine that simply does not suit your palate. The best wines in the world are the ones that you like. Every person’s palate is unique.

Try Food and Wine Pairings

If the winery offers food pairings with their wines, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to explore the art of matching flavors. Just think- wine and cheese, wine and chocolate, and many more pairings simply go great together!

Wine and food pairings can create wonderful flavors that enhance the complexity of both the beverage and the snack or meal. Delight your taste buds with carefully curated pairings that elevate the flavors and reveal new dimensions of the wines.

Responsible Tasting and Hydration

Wine tasting is a joyful and educational experience, but it's essential to be mindful of responsible consumption. Know your limits and pace yourself throughout the day. Hydration is also crucial, so drink water between tastings to stay refreshed and savor the flavors to their fullest. Being responsible ensures that you fully enjoy your visit to wineries without overindulgence - that is why we include plenty of water on our wine tours.

Express Appreciation and Gratitude to Vineyard Staff

As your day of wine tours and wine tasting comes to a close, remember to express appreciation and gratitude to the tasting room staff for their hospitality and guidance. Vineyard staff take pride in sharing their world of wine with you, so please thank your guides for sharing their knowledge and recommendations with you. You might also consider purchasing the wines you enjoyed most, supporting the wineries that have shared their passion and craftsmanship with you.

Put Your Wine Etiquette to the Test

With these tips on wine tasting etiquette, you are well-prepared to embark on a memorable journey through the best wine regions. At Wine Tours by Design, we believe that wine tours and tastings are a great way to bring people together!

Ready to take a guided wine tour? Join us with your friends or family on one of our North Georgia or California wine tours.


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