There is a chance that if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may squeeze in a wine tasting on holidays. In fact, if you’re like me, you might even build a holiday around wine tastings in a region.
People are traveling on holidays again. So, I thought it might be opportune to revisit some etiquette around wine tasting. Especially for when visiting chateaux, wineries or other venues that offer wine tasting events.
I have provided tips on this topic previously in this post ‘how-to-become-a-pro-in-the-wonderful-world-of-wine-tasting’ and shared a short video on some things not to do at a tasting (below)
Handling the Tasting Room Experience
For us in the industry, wine tastings are part of our work. For millions of other people though, it can still be an unusual, and sometimes daunting, experience. How much do we have to know about wine, do we spit or swallow, do I have to buy a bottle? All valid questions really.
So, I pulled the Green Acres wine team together and we pooled our thoughts on the matter. The very first thing that all of them said was to avoid wearing perfume or any fragrances really. That goes for male or female. To do so can ruin the tasting experience for everybody else around you.
The First Rule is - There Are No Rules
There are no rules but there are some unspoken guidelines. Here are some considerations that should increase your enjoyment of a wine tasting.
There’s no need to spit out after every glass sampled. Go ahead, swallow some and have some fun. It’s not all about a wine education.
When you have a little sip, whether you like it or not – it is OK to pour out the wine into a wine bucket (usually provided at each table). This is not seen as wasting the wine.
Don’t be a wine snob. Not everybody attending wants to hear you rattle on about each bottle on the table. If somebody is hogging the table move on and return later.
Try to avoid pre-conceived preferences. If a producer has a line of bottles for tasting – allow them to bring you through them in their own way. They want you to experience their wine in the best way.
If there is an opportunity to purchase a bottle (that you like), please don’t start haggling for a better price. You might be a brilliant haggler in the local market, but this is different.
Do ask questions. If someone says a word that you don’t understand like a region or a term, don’t be too embarrassed to ask what it means.
I wouldn’t recommend wearing white clothing, and finally. please shower first if you are attending right after an afternoon’s sunbathing.
Is There an Actual Technique for Wine Tasting?
For most people who attend a wine tasting on holidays, they are there to have some fun. So, without getting too hung-up on the matter, here are a few ‘techniques’ to try when tasting.
Swirling the wine in the glass allows air to release aromas. Of course, there’s no rule saying you must swirl at all, if that’s not your thing. Give it a try and you may just find you get a lot more out of the overall sensory experience.
It’s best to hold wine glasses by the stem rather than the bowl; holding them by the bowl coats glasses in greasy fingerprints, but it can also disturb the temperature of the wine.
After sipping a little, swirl the wine around in your mouth to ensure it coats all the surfaces, since we pick up different texture and flavour sensations in different parts of our mouths.
If spitting out the wine, either lift the bucket to your mouth or if fixed to the floor, lean down towards it, to spit gently.
Whatever your technique, remember you do not have to drink every single wine at the tasting. Even when on holidays and you are more relaxed, nobody wants to be that drunk guy slurring his words by 7 p.m.
Things Not to Say at a Wine Tasting
One last thing - you don’t need to learn a whole new language to talk at a wine tasting. There are certain things you should probably refrain from saying though. I say this so you don’t sound silly rather than my undermining your ‘expertise’.
- I don’t drink dry wines. Don’t say this — or anything else that starts with “I don’t drink.” You’re at a wine tasting! You’re there to find out what you like and what you don’t. Try everything!
- I don’t like screw-cap wines. Screw-top wine bottles are perfectly fine. This is one that makes you look like you know absolutely nothing about wine.
- Rosé is for the ladies. First, it’s sexist. Second, it’s uneducated. Third, it’s not true. Rosés use a wide variety of grapes — winemakers keep the skins in contact with the juice for a short period, which provides the colour.
- I’ll buy the bottle with the fancy label. This just sounds silly. Instead of looking at the label’s design, pay more attention to the information that’s on it, such as the year and grape type etc.
- No server here, I’ll help myself. This is rude. Don’t ever grab the bottle and pour it yourself for you or others. Calm down and wait for your server to return.
- This wine is awful. No one really wants to hear your opinion while forming their own about the wine. Keep your opinion to yourself.
Here’s a personal recommendation if heading out on the town after the tasting. Think ahead about the red-wine teeth dilemma.
It’s an unfortunate side effect of wine tasting events that drinking red wine can stain your teeth. Unless you want to have a purple-tinged grin, think ahead about how you’re going to manage this. Drink water during the event and maybe bring some chewing gum for when you're done.
Above all - Have fun
Some people get very serious when they’re tasting wines but remember it’s OK to smile and have a good time too. You’re on holidays and tasting wine - not preparing for an exam (you will not be quizzed at the exit doors).
When you return from holidays and would like to talk to us about having a wine tasting event here in Green Acres, just contact me at email@example.com or any of the team.
Happy holidays and wine tasting – James.