Whether you’re spending the weekend in wine country, or heading downtown to a new wine bar, here are 15 easy tips on what you shouldn’t do at a wine tasting that will help you have a fabulous experience.
1. Don’t Brush Your Teeth Beforehand
If you’ve ever brushed your teeth and then had a glass of orange juice, you know where this is going. Before you head out to that wine tasting, remember not to brush your teeth right before.
Toothpaste will change the pH of your mouth.
You don’t want to ruin your palate with the toothpaste flavor. Maybe wait a little bit, or just rinse your mouth with water.
2. Don’t Eat Foods with Strong Flavors Beforehand
Avoid eating anything with bold, strong flavors right before you head to the tasting room. Salsa, garlic, spicy Thai… you get the idea.
Strong flavors can leave an aftertaste in your mouth and change your perception of wine. You want to be able to taste the wine, not your garlic bread or spicy chips.
Stick to something relatively plane, like a turkey sandwich.
3. Don’t Go on an Empty Stomach
You’ve heard this advice before: Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Going to a wine tasting on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. You don’t want to get drunk too quickly, and you don’t want to feel sick from drinking on an empty stomach.
Grab a light snack before you head out if you’re in-between meals.
Granola bar, anyone?
4. Don’t Go with a Head Cold or Stuffy Nose
Whether it’s allergies or the end of a head cold, if you’re feeling stuffy, it might be best to skip the wine tasting.
Your sense of smell is a big part of your taste, and if your nose is blocked, you won’t be able to fully enjoy the wine. Save your tasting fee for another weekend.
5. Don’t Wear Perfume or Cologne
A big no-no is the use of strong scents around wine. When you’re going to a wine tasting, skip the perfume or cologne. It can interfere with the wine’s aroma and the experience for others around you.
Plus, who wants to smell like a mix of wine and fragrance?
6. Don’t Wear Flavored Lip Gloss, Chapstick, or Lipstick
Ladies, if you’re going to a wine tasting, leave the flavored lip gloss, chapstick, or lipstick at home. Those luscious strawberry lips will have to wait for another occasion.
Flavored lip balm can change the taste of the wine and mess with your palate. Opt for a neutral lip gloss instead.
7. Don’t Arrive Late
If you had to make a reservation for your wine tasting, get there on time. Don’t be that person who arrives late to a wine tasting. It disrupts the flow of things and can be distracting to others. The tasting room has a tight schedule with tastings set up throughout the day. If you’re late, you could forfeit your sitting. Plus, you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun.
Helpful Tip: Always check the tasting room’s website to doublecheck if you need a reservation beforehand. This is becoming more common, especially during the vacation season when tasting rooms can get overcrowded.
8. Don’t Go Without Arranging a Ride
If you’re planning on indulging in some wine at the tasting, make sure you arrange for a ride home beforehand. You don’t want to put yourself or others in danger by driving under the influence.
Tasting room associates are trained to help intoxicated guests find rides, so feel free to ask them to find a taxi or rideshare for you.
No one’s judging.
Helpful Tip: Many wine regions offer municipal bus services that are an inexpensive, safe way to get around. I use these all of the time if I’m planning on “drinking” not just “tasting”. 😉
9. Don’t Gulp Your Wine
Savor the wine, don’t gulp it down. Take your time, swirl it around, inhale deeply, and focus on the flavors playing over your tongue after each sip. What do you taste?
You’ll appreciate the taste and experience more that way.
10. Don’t Feel Like You Need to Drink All of the Wine
Don’t feel obligated to drink all of the wine provided at the tasting. It’s okay not to finish a pour or even skip a wine that doesn’t interest you. You can absolutely use the spit or dump bucket liberally. The world is awash in delicious (and not-so-delicious) wine.
Enjoy at your own pace.
11. Don’t Be Closed-minded
Don’t be closed-minded when it comes to wine. I’m always silently judging those who won’t try any of (___) style of wine because they already know they don’t like it. It’s a tasting. You’re paying for the tasting.
Try everything and spit what you don’t like.
Winemaking is an art.
Every wine from every vintage will be different, so it’s worth at least trying. Step out of your comfort zone, and be open to new experiences. You might find a new favorite!
12. Don’t Act Like an Expert
Unless you’re an expert, don’t act like one. It can come across as pretentious. It’s okay to not know everything about wine, and there’s no need to pretend you know a lot about wine.
The associates are there to help you whatever your level of wine experience. Ask questions, learn from others, and enjoy your tasting.
13. Don’t Hold the Bowl of the Glass (use the stem)
Tactical Advice: Hold the glass by the stem, not the bowl. This prevents the wine from warming up too quickly. Temperature changes in the wine will affect the flavor.
14. Don’t Keep the Wine You Purchase in a Hot Car
Wine and heat don’t mix. If you end up buying wine (which you should), don’t leave it in a hot car after you purchase it. The heat can ruin the flavor and quality of the wine quickly. Keep it in a cool place.
Helpful Tip: You can swing by the tasting room on your way out of town to pick your wine up at the end of the day.
15. Don’t Get Drunk
Challenging advice, I know, but remember, the point of wine tasting is to experience several different wines and learn about your likes and dislikes, not to get drunk. Pace yourself, hydrate, eat, and sip slowly!
Pro Tip: Always enjoy responsibly.
Final Thoughts – Wine Tasting No-Nos
Whether it’s making sure you eat before heading to the tasting room, or not storing newly purchased wine in a hot car, these 15 tips on things you shouldn’t do at a wine tasting will help you enjoy a “grape” day without any hiccups.
Thirsty for More?
Wine tasting can seem like a decadent affair, but it’s actually quite affordable with a little planning. Check out this post on how much it costs to go wine tasting in different regions of the US and here’s one on how to save money on wine tasting if you’re the frugal type (I am!).
Check out this post on 8 Things You MUST Know Before Going Wine Tasting for the First Time
Going wine tasting is probably the best way to learn about wine. Check out this post that covers what you should do at a wine tasting.
Before you head out, make sure that you have a food plan for wine tasting. Most tasting rooms won’t offer food, so here’s what you need to know.
And if you’re new(er) to wine tastings, here’s a great list of questions you can ask to get the most out of your wine tasting adventure.
And if you’re trying to learn about wine on a budget, then you should absolutely host your own wine tasting parties at home. Check out how to host a blind tasting at home or, if you’re just getting started, how to host a wine tasting for beginners.