6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Visit to a Wine Tasting Room

Going to your first wine tasting at a winery can be both exciting and daunting. For those new to the industry, it may seem like expertise or even pretension is required to enter the world of wine.

But knowledge can calm any nervousness before tasting. And tasting rooms have a common etiquette that you can follow. Here, experts share tips and important things to keep in mind to help you take the bold step.

1. Choose the right location for your tasting goals


Matching the right setting to your party’s expectations is one of the most important and overlooked factors for a successful tasting. Elizabeth Schneider, podcast creator and author of Wine for normal peopleencourages you to plan.

“If you’re with people who are there to slam glasses of wine, or people who just want to sit down and drink, then there are places that are more conducive to that,” she says. “It’s going to be big places, massive tasting rooms where people won’t even notice.”

However, large tasting rooms may not be ideal if you really want to know what’s in your glass.

“If you’re really interested in learning, break away from these people and go find a small producer or two,” says Schneider.

2. You should be invited to ask questions

Wine tasting and lessons in a Chilean winery.

The wine industry is full of professionals who are passionate about their profession. The majority hope to introduce you to the product they have put effort into, and they understand that wine comes with a language that you may not know.

“You should be able to walk into a place and ask questions without feeling intimidated,” says Nicki McTague, president of The Infinite Monkey Theorem, an urban Denver winery. “You can ask our bartenders any question. Wine was made to be enjoyed and we want to find what you like.

Schneider encourages you to overcome nervousness while knowing your limits. ” Do not be discouraged ; it’s uncomfortable not knowing things. But it’s not normal to feel like you can’t ask. So if a tasting room looks like this, get out. There are usually 20 more on the road.

3. What to expect in the tasting room

Tasting of winegrowers' wines

A tasting consists of paying for a set number of samples. The tasting room staff will guide you through the options, introducing you to the different varietals and their characteristics. You’ll try each in a suggested order, with more information with each pour. Some tastings may include visits to a vineyard, cellars or production areas.

Schneider reminds those going to the tastings to avoid “guilt buying” at the end. “I tell everyone: you have already paid. You don’t have to if you don’t like it.

4. Know the basic language of wine

Couple watching a sommelier opening a bottle of wine during a tasting session in a cellar.

Courses and entire books cover the language that accompanies wine tasting. For your first tasting, know the basic phrases that describe what you see, smell and taste.

“We want to help you with the tasting notes, why you smell certain things, why you absorb certain things. But at the end of the day, we want you to like what you’re drinking,” McTague says.

Taste buds pick up sweet, salty, salty, sour and bitter. These and other familiar words used with wine are good starting points for beginners. Others include sour, dry, creamy, light, medium, and heavy.

Look for colors and clarity. Then shake your glass and sniff. The range of aromas is wide: fruity, earthy, spicy and more. People notice different smells and tend to expand their range as they practice.

“All you have to do is get more tastes and aromas into your memory bank. Go to the grocery store and smell the fruits, vegetables and spices,” says Catherine Bugue, director of education at the Napa Valley Wine Academy.

5. How to confidently spit and swirl

A person who smells of wine

Bugue says after the lingo, whirling and spitting cause the most angst for newbies. His best advice for both: train at home.

“The swirling helps the flavors come up. If you’re not comfortable, wave it lightly on the table rather than in the air where you may not be able to control the liquid. If he rolls over a bit, kiss him. You learn !

Spitting wine is important because you can’t have a nuanced tasting if you’re inebriated. It’s also an acceptable way to move on that you don’t like.

Bugue advises you not to hesitate, to avoid backsplashes and to keep a handkerchief handy.

6. Remember, wine is fun

A man opens the wine

Ultimately, while there’s so much to learn about wine, you don’t have to be an expert. “I don’t want everyone to think that appreciating wine means having to delve deeply into it,” says Bugue.

And you don’t have to be fancy. “Remember that growers are down-to-earth farmers,” says Schneider. “I think it always pays to remind a [new wine drinker] that wine is agriculture. Would you be scared if you went to a strawberry farm to tell the farmer about his strawberries? It’s a New World concept to separate the farmer from the winemaker.

All the experts encourage you to trust yourself.

“Forget everything that goes with it [and] find what you like,” says McTague. “It doesn’t have to be a sheet music associated or something you’ve heard of or can even pronounce. And that will not happen in the first stage. And it doesn’t matter. Enjoy it.”

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