Visiting a winery can be a magical experience. Of course, you get to sample many wonderful kinds of wine. That’s a given.
But many wineries are also surrounded by beautiful scenery and have breathtaking views. Visiting one (or two or three) can be a relaxing way to spend your day.
As of 2014, American wineries were receiving 30 million annual visits. Clearly, this is something people enjoy!
If you haven’t visited a winery before, though, the thought of going can be intimidating. You might think you’re not knowledgeable enough about wine or wine tasting etiquette. You don’t want to make any mistakes or look foolish.
Don’t let these fears keep you away! All you need to do is learn a few simple rules, and you’re good to go. Read on for the complete guide to wine tasting rules.
How To Do a Wine Tasting
You’ve picked out several wineries in your area. You’ve called ahead to make sure you don’t need a reservation, and your designated driver or transportation is all set.
Now you’re on your way to your first winery tasting at a place like Enchantment Vineyards. Below you will find five unwritten rules to help make your visit enjoyable. Read on!
1. Don’t Forget to Eat
Never go to a winery on an empty stomach. You may plan on spitting out some of your wine (more on that later!). But it’s likely you’ll end up drinking more than you realize, and the last thing you want to do is get drunk.
So, make sure you eat a large breakfast or lunch before you go. If you are visiting more than one winery during the day, feel free to pack a lunch. Wineries often have picnic areas, and you may even be able to do your wine tasting there.
While you can bring your own food, don’t eat your lunch with wine from another winery. Obviously, that wouldn’t go over well.
2. The Same Goes for Water
Drink lots of water. This will keep you hydrated while you try the different wines. Again, water prevents you from getting too tipsy.
It is also used to cleanse your palate between tastings. Take a sip before each new wine.
Water versus Wine for Rinsing
It may seem odd, but you can also use water to swill your glass. Many wineries do not offer clean glasses for each new wine presented, and you don’t want the taste of your last wine affecting that of the new one.
Note that some wineries advise against using water to clean your glass between tastings. Even though you dump the water out, the little bit that remains dilutes the taste of the upcoming wine.
Instead, they suggest rinsing your glass with the next wine you are going to taste. Swirl some around, dump it out, and offer your glass for the official tasting.
This may all sound obscure for a beginner, but rinsing your glass either with water or wine allows you to fully taste each new wine.
If in doubt, never hesitate to ask for help! Wine hosts are there to assist you.
3. Speaking of Which, Ask Questions and Take Notes
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is especially true for wines that you like. You can inquire about the type of grape used, where the wine is grown, or how it’s made.
The wine host is there to guide you through the wine tasting experience. Take advantage of their knowledge!
If you don’t have any questions, though, that’s okay too. And you never need to prepare questions ahead-of-time.
Only ask them if you are genuinely curious. Then take notes on the answers. At first, that might be awkward and difficult, but taking notes gets easier the more you do it!
There are two good reasons for writing down your observations. First, after tasting a few wines, your memory might not be as good as when you started.
Second, writing information down helps you identify patterns. As you’re going along, take note of things like grape variety, the smell or taste of the wine, or even how the wine looks. Having this information makes it possible for you to know what kinds of wine you enjoy and why.
If you thought you liked only a certain kind of wine, but your notes show otherwise, embrace it! Having an open mind allows you to find out your preferences based on taste, etc., rather than preconceived ideas.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Spit or Dump Out Your Wine
One of the reasons you visit a vineyard is to sample as many wines as possible. How do you do that without getting drunk?
There are several options here. The first is to taste and swallow the wine like normal. If there is a glass of wine that you particularly enjoy, feel free to savor it.
Remember, though, you will be trying several different wines. Swallowing them all is not an option.
Besides, the more you drink, the less sensitive your taste buds become. And then what is the point of a wine tasting?
Furthermore, there’s no need to drink your full glass, even if you like the wine. Simply dump the rest out in the provided spittoons. The wine tasting room is sure to have at least one, and no one’s feelings are going to be hurt if you dump out some or all your wine.
You can also spit out your wine into the spittoons. Yes, this is socially acceptable!
All you have to do it take a sip of the wine as normal. Then swish it around in your mouth, and after you have tasted it, spit it out into the spittoon.
That way, you can form an opinion about the wine without overdoing it. Remember, too, if you are the designated driver, you will be spitting out pretty much all your wine.
No matter what you do, though, enjoy the experience!
5. Is There a Special Wine-Drinking Technique?
The short answer is: no. The purpose of smelling and swirling the wine is to form an opinion of it using as many senses as possible. Once you know the steps, evaluating wine is easy.
First, look at the wine in the glass. Pay attention to the color and how clear or dark the wine looks. If it’s a red wine, take note of the specific color.
Second, swirl the wine around in the glass. Next, take a big sniff.
80 percent of our taste experience comes from smell. Smelling your wine, then, is an important part of the tasting process.
Finally, take a sip, swish it around in your mouth, and then either swallow or spit it out. These simple steps give you all the information you need to evaluate the wine.
Wrapping Up on Wine Tasting Etiquette
There you have it! Everything you need to know about wine tasting etiquette. Remember, though, visiting a winery should be a fun and even an enchanting experience.
Your first priority is to have a good time there.
If you like this article, we have others that may interest you as well. Consider reading some of our travel articles. Whether you are working within a tight budget or going someplace exotic, we are sure to have something for you!