Here’s what you should (and should not) be doing at a wine tasting
how should you hold a wine glass? how many wine tastes are too many? and should you spit?
these are just a few of the questions that might arise when presented with the opportunity to attend a wine tasting. and, you’re likely not alone.
Wine tasting is a wonderful way to sip, savour and learn about new wines and wineries. but the experiences, which typically include tasting a variety of wines including white, red and rosé options, can present a few sticky situations, should one imbibe too much.
so we asked sunita Padda, an etiquette expert and founder of the Vancouver-based etiquette coaching company tablesmarts, to offer up her top tips and tricks to help you stay on track during a wine tasting.
Q. What’s the number one thing to remember when it comes to etiquette at a wine tasting?
A. remember that wine is to be enjoyed. knocking back wine at a tasting signals that you don’t know what you’re looking for. Wine should be swirled in your mouth in order to catch all the different notes a particular variety has to offer. if this feels too intermediate for you, ask the sommelier what you should be tasting for and have them guide you through the tastings.
Q. How do you look like you know what you’re doing — even if you have no idea?
A. be confident in what you know but also honest with what you don’t know. if you aren’t sure how to pronounce a particular label, or don’t know how to pair a wine — ask! being open to learning is a form of showing confidence. this always looks much more tasteful than the alternative.
Q. I’ve read you should only hold the wine glass by the stem. Is this true?
And, if so, why?
A. yes, you always want to hold the glass by its stem. the reason for not holding the glass by the bowl is because the warmth from your hands can affect the temperature of the wine. if you have any scents on your hand, from perfumes or creams for example, that can also affect how you inhale the different notes in the wine.
Q. Any tips to make sure you don’t go overboard with the tastings?
A. in order to limit the risk of becoming intoxicated during your wine tour, it is generally encouraged to make use of the spit pails once you have tasted wine on your palette. don’t drool into the bucket, learn to swish it around in your mouth and then spit forcefully so that you aren’t left with any dribble! it’s also a great idea to make sure to eat throughout your tours. Many wineries having well-rated restaurants right onsite and stopping for lunch is a great idea. i recommend making a reservations ahead of time as these spots can fill up quickly during peak tourist season.
Q. Is it ever OK to ask for more wine?
A. always be cautious of appearing like you’re freeloading on tastings. if you plan on purchasing wine from the winery then asking for a second taste of the same wine is appropriate. also note that many wineries now charge for additional tastings. Q. Lastly, is there a dress code for wine tasting that people should keep in mind? A. your attitude and dress should reflect the winery. keep in mind, you’re not at a bar. some wineries will have a series of different wines for you to taste in a social walk-around layout, or, it may be more formal seated tasting so be sure to do your research and dress accordingly.
Sunita Padda, is a Vancouver-based etiquette expert and founder of TableSmarts.