9 Wine Tasting Etiquette Tips For First Timers

Are you preparing for your first-ever wine tasting? How exciting! Let’s make the most of your inaugural PA winery tour with some common-sense (and not-so-common-sense) dos and don’ts.

Whether you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur or you’re just beginning to learn about great wines, the following tips will lift the ambiance for everyone involved.

Going to Your First PA Winery Tour? Here are Some Great Wine Tasting Etiquette Tips

1. Relax

Here’s the cardinal rule: RELAX! Wine tasting can be intimidating, but it really shouldn’t be! You’re simply out to get away for awhile and have fun. So is everyone else. No one likes a snob.

No one will judge you if you can’t pick up subtle hints of apple or oak. Don’t feel pressured to be the next wine master Tim Hanni. We like you just as you are!

2. Invite Company

Bring your sweetheart. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Wine tasting is best enjoyed in the warm company of people you care for.

Savor the experience together. It’s so much fun to taste a wine selection for the first time and compare your thoughts or ratings.

3. Don’t Wear Strong Fragrances

About 80% of our sense of taste is actually smell. Wearing a strong cologne or perfume will almost certainly affect your taste (and those around you). Please, remember this important facet of wine tasting etiquette.

4. Yes, You Can Swallow if You Want

The standard wine-tasting sample is ½ – 1 ounce. Spit it out or drink it all. It depends on your preference.

In fact, it’s common to sample a small swish of wine, spit it out, and dump the remainder – even if you like the wine! The sommelier certainly will not be offended. (Word to the wise: If you intend on sampling many wines or touring multiple wineries, it’d be best to keep your consumption to a minimum. A wine tasting is no place for overindulgence.)

5. Linger with a Purpose

Stay as long as you’d like, but be respectful of others trying to enjoy the process. You may request a second quick taste to decide if you truly like that selection or not, but wine tasting is merely sampling. There’s no need to hinder the experience for others. (Remember: Savor, don’t overindulge.)

6. Respect the Process

A typical formal wine tasting involves 5 or 6 wines of different styles – usually 2 reds, 2 whites, and perhaps 1 or 2 specialties in that order. This is to truly enjoy the appearance, aroma, taste, and finish of each wine. Sampling wines in such fashion, with small snacks like crackers in between to cleanse the palate, allows you to sense even the most subtle hints and fragrances within each selection.

Of course, who says it has to be formal? If you’re hoping to sample just 1 or 2 specific wines, you need only ask.

7. Be Open to New Things

Nothing kills good tasting vibes faster than being overly cautious, especially if you have an adventurous party. Be brave.

Partial to sweet wines? Try something more dry. Prefer the drier end of the vino spectrum? Perhaps experiment with a fruit wine. Enhance the experience by learning how they’re made differently to come out with their distinct flavors.

(Here’s a thought: Try a vinotype test. It’s a research-backed personality test that pinpoints the types of wine you’d enjoy most. Yes, it’s quite accurate. You may just begin a love affair with a wine you never would’ve considered before.)

8. Learn the Lingo

Again, no one’s asking you to become a connoisseur. You don’t even have to fake it (like this). But simply knowing a few vino buzzwords (like if you’d like to try something dry, sweet, semi-dry, or semi-sweet) will help the sommelier to more efficiently serve you.

9. Buy the Wine

Some wineries charge a small tasting fee. Others open their facilities regularly for free tasting sessions. Either way, vintners hope you’ll be delighted enough to purchase the fruits of their labor. Don’t take advantage of the hospitality with the intention of purposely leaving empty handed.

Are You Ready for Your First Wine Tasting Experience?

You now know the wine tasting etiquette to make yourself (and everyone around you) feel comfortable on a winery tour. Ready to put these lessons to good use? We happen to know a great place to begin.