You Don’t Have to Be a Wine Expert to Enjoy a Visit to a Tasting Room

Wine tastings are an exciting experience for wine enthusiasts. If you love the aroma of the old favourites and find yourself curious by the unexplored, if your pallet is fascinated by the complexity of the taste, you will no doubt enjoy a visit to a tasting room.

Sommeliers and other wine professionals have specialised wine tasting processes, but they are not the only ones who enjoy the ritual-like experience of discovering wines. Wine tasting rooms have a large informal following, and a set of less publicised guidelines. Even though recreational wine tasters take a less analytical approach, it is still important to stick to these rules.

What are the Rules?

The practice of wine tasting is as ancient as wine making and the conventions of tasting room etiquette have evolved through the ages. Nevertheless, a few unspoken rules and suggestions have stood the test of time, and here they are:

  • Eat something – Don’t go to a wine tasting event on an empty stomach.
  • Leave your preferences at home – You may have never enjoyed Pinot Noir, but go ahead and give it a go anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised when trying something unusual one day.
  • Don’t wear a fragrance – Although you may be used to your scent, it can ruin the experience for everyone else within range.
  • Don’t show off – Even if you are an expert, try not to talk too technically. You will be taking the fun out of the experience for those who are not as knowledgeable as you.
  • Spit or swallow? – Believe it or not, it’s up to you. You can go ahead and swallow the wine you are tasting , it’s not all about getting educated, there should definitely be some fun involved. However, if you will be visiting several tasting rooms, moderate what you take in.
  • Don’t request ‘the good stuff’ – That is rude, but feel free to express your opinion about the wines you’ve tasted, it will help your host understand what you should taste next.
  • Linger meaningfully – Most wineries are happy to allow people to taste a wine again when they are considering a purchase, however, not when they are trying to get drunk.
  • Make a purchase – Some wine tastings are free, and others waive the tasting fee in lieu of a minimum purchase. Depending on the circumstances, it would be polite to buy at least two or three bottles.
  • Tips? – Tipping staff at a winery is entirely at your discretion. Even though tasting rooms may seem like bars, they are not. If a staff member was particularly attentive and it feels like the right thing to do, by all means, go ahead and give them a tip.

Learning to Rate Your Wine

wine tastingInvestment in fine wine purchased strictly for investment might be best handled by an experienced wine merchant, but even so it is important to understand the market and the varieties. A good place to begin learning to appreciate the different types of wine is by learning and tasting. You will not only discover your own palate, or what you like best, but you will understand the qualities to look for in investment wines. While you may not have been born with this talent, you can certainly learn it.

Start with a Sniff

Wine professionals are experienced in sniffing the wine to discern the subtle threads woven into the complex aroma. Your nose is the key here. Just try to hold your nose when swallowing some wine and you’ll notice how muted the flavors are. So how to begin? Begin by stopping everything you’re doing or saying. Shut out any distraction and focus on how the wine looks, how it smells, its

flavor and its finish. It doesn’t take long to make all those notes, but it does require a degree of concentration. In your tasting, choose the wine’s main flavor and the scent in each of the wines. Begin with the basic characteristics, which should include the varietal grapes, and go on to learning to distinguish wines coming from the best wine producing areas of the world. Before long you will be able to tell the good wine from the less desirable.

Wine Regions of the World

After you’ve rated your wine, find out if it is New World or Old World. New World wines comes from one of the newer areas of wine production, including America, Chile and Australia. Old World wines come from areas of the world known for their long histories of producing wine, such as along the Mediterranean or Europe, including Italy, France and Germany.

Whatever you sip, take a minute to learn its history and appreciate its heritage. Whether you are buying to enjoy or for investment, it is worthwhile to pay attention to its complexity and characteristics while savoring the moment.