As Spring gets into full swing and the weather allows for more outdoor activities, I know many of you will be off to the vineyards for wine tastings! For those of us (including me!) who are not wine connoisseurs, wine tastings can be intimidating if you are not knowledgeable of the different types or what you like. Wine tasting is the perfect time to learn! Here are a few tips to get you ready and help craft you into a wine expert!
- Plan ahead.
- Schedule your wine tasting ahead of time especially if you are in a large group. This helps wineries plan for guests and assign you the correct number of wine hosts.
- Plan your transportation. You will be drinking so be sure to have a designated driver or get a limo/party bus/etc to take your group to and from the wineries.
- Dress the part 🙂 While wearing something more casual is certainly appropriate, I would at least wear nice jeans and a pretty top (for ladies) and a polo or casual button down (for gentlemen). Depending on the weather, sun dresses are an excellent option! Many wineries have indoor/outdoor tasting areas and/or places to eat so be cognizant of your options. Additionally, some wineries are more casual than other. Do your research and look up the winery prior to your tour.
- Avoid perfumes, creams, and hair products with overpowering smells. A part of wine tasting is being able to smell the aromas. If you have too much perfume, etc. on it will interfere with the experience.
- Give the wine host (the person who describes and pours the wine) your full attention. This is the perfect time to learn more about wine, how it is made, and about the winery/vineyard itself. The wine host will give a thorough description of what to expect from the wine and why it has certain flavors. Often times, you will also be told what foods go well with each type of wine you taste – This is important to learn so you can be an excellent host/hostess and pair your wine with what you serve!
- Have your manners.
- When in the tasting room/area, keep your voice to a conversational tone. There are typically several parties in the area; therefore, you do not want to be the loud group everyone stares at because they cannot hear amongst their own group or worse, hear their wine host.
- Be aware of how much you are drinking. During a wine tasting, you are given a small amount of each wine. You may not think you are drinking very much, but it starts to add up over multiple wines/tastings. Be classy and avoid the embarrassment of drunken behavior in a refined setting.
- Sip your wine. Do not gulp the whole tasting at once. (More on this in just bit!)
- Hold your wine glass by the stem. It is not only proper to do so, it is also practical. When drinking white wines they are typically chilled; therefore, putting your had around the globe of the glass will warm the wine. Red wines are enhanced by exposure to the air so having a wider globe helps this process. Hold the glass by the stem for red wines as well.
- What if I do not like a certain wine?
- If you know beforehand that you do not care for a particular wine, simply place your hand over your glass when the wine host gets to you and say “no thank you.” The wine host will understand. This way is much more appropriate and discreet than exclaiming “I do not like that wine” to your host and the rest of your group.
- If you are unsure about a wine, take a small sip first. If you do not like it, do not spit it out. Swallow the small amount you have and then discard the remaining amount in the “dump bucket.”
- Will there be food?
- Eat before you arrive or plan a meal in conjunction with your tasting trip. At most tasting, small snacks of crackers and/or cheese will be set out. These are simply to cleanse your palette between wines, not to act as hors d’oeuvres or a meal. Wineries are a great place for a picnic!
- If you have selected to do a wine and food pairing, then you will be given food, but it will be small, bite-size samples of each course.
- Remember: Sip. Taste. Sip. This allows you to taste the wine on it’s own first then taste it again after eating to see how the food influences the flavor.
- Do I have to buy a wine after a tasting? While it is encouraged to do so, you are not obligated to buy any wine after a tasting. If you do find you like then by all means go for it!
Have you ever had a wine etiquette dilemma? I hope these tips help you feel more confident as you explore the world of wine!