Confession: I hang out in tasting rooms. A lot. If you’re wondering what you should be doing while tasting (other than drinking wine and staring at your empty wine glass), then you’ve come to the right place.
Going wine tasting is a guaranteed way to learn about wine. If you’re newer to wine and curious about building your wine knowledge foundation, then here are 11 great questions to ask at a wine tasting.
Question 1: Tell Me About the Winery’s History?
Why ask this question: This is a great question to ask at a wine tasting to learn about the winery’s background and story. You can discover the winery’s founding, the winemaking philosophy, and any unique aspects of their production process.
Understanding the winery’s history can provide insights into the wine’s quality, craftsmanship, and the passion behind the bottle.
Question 2: Where Do the Grapes Come From?
Why ask this question: Believe it or not, most wine grapes aren’t grown right next to a winery. Most are grown at vineyard locations geographically separate from the winemaking facility.
Winemakers can source grapes from different vineyard plots and even different regions.
I love this question because asking about the grapes’ origin is essential in understanding the wine’s terroir, which refers to the environmental factors that influence a wine’s flavor profile.
You’ll learn about the vineyard’s location, climate, soil type, and other environmental factors that affect the grapes’ growth.
This knowledge can offer insights into the wine’s characteristics and help you appreciate the wine’s sense of place. It can also help you begin to identify how different growing regions affect wine quality and flavor.
Question 3: What Grapes Are in this Wine?
Why ask this question: This question allows you to delve deeper into the wine’s varietal and regional characteristics. You can learn about the specific grape varieties used in the wine and their typical flavor profiles.
A good follow-up question is: What Region of the World Are These Grapes From Originally?
Most wine grapes come from regions across Europe. Asking this question will give you a little background history of winemaking and can deepen your understanding of wine in general.
Question 4: Is This a Typical Style of Wine for This Grape?
Why ask this question: This fun wine tasting question allows you to explore the wine’s style and understand if it is representative of the typical characteristics of the grape variety used.
Many winemakers play with their winemaking skills to craft wines in different styles.
Some winemakers are more playful than others, so this is a great question to ask at a wine tasting.
You can learn about the grape’s typical flavor profile, structure, and style, and compare it with the wine you are tasting. This can help you expand your knowledge of different grape varieties and their diverse expressions.
Question 5: Is This Wine a Blend?
Why ask this question: This question is so important if you are tasting a blended wine. Ask about the specific grape varieties used in the blend and their contributions to the wine’s overall flavor profile.
Many wines will blend different grapes together in their final wines, even if it’s just a small percentage to shape the wine’s profile.
Follow-up Question: What Does Each Grape Add to the Wine in the Blend?
Understanding the blend’s composition can help you appreciate how different grapes complement each other and create a unique wine with complex flavors and aromas.
Question 6: What Am I Smelling and Tasting?
Why ask this question? As someone new(er) to wine, it’s often hard to put language to your sense of smell. You may smell red fruit, but not quite be able to pick out the difference between red cherry, red plum, raspberry, strawberry, or watermelon. This is 100% normal and okay.
“What am I smelling and tasting,” is a question to ask about wine that will help you actively participate in the tasting process as you learn to identify the various nuances in the wine’s aroma and flavor profile.
Don’t be intimidated by fancy wine terms. Ask follow-up questions if the your wine educator starts using new-to-you vocabulary. 😎
Question 7: What Temperature Do You Serve This Wine?
Why ask this question: Temperature plays a significant role in wine tasting, as it can affect the wine’s aroma, flavor, and overall balance. By asking this question, you can learn about the ideal serving temperature for the wine you are tasting.
Whether you choose to buy a bottle of the wine you’re tasting or not, asking this question can help you develop a general sense of what temperatures you want to serve different wines.
Knowing a wine’s serving temperature can help you enjoy the wine at its best and fully appreciate its flavors and aromas.
Helpful Tip: Wine serving temperature is actually important, but a little quirky. So, I put together this easy-to-use guide on how to serve your wines at the perfect temperature.
Question 8: How Long Will This Wine Last Unopened?
Why ask this question: This question is important if you’re thinking about purchasing a bottle of wine for aging or keeping it for a special occasion.
You can ask about the wine’s aging potential and how long it can be stored unopened without losing its quality.
A good follow-up question is: How should I store the wine?
You’ll get a lesson in proper wine storage to help extend your bottle’s lifespan.
Good to know.
Question 9: How Long Will This Wine Last Once Opened?
Why ask this question: Oxygen is the enemy of wine. Once you’re bottle’s open, it’s going to start degrading, which means you need to drink up!
You want to be able to enjoy your wine at its best after opening.
The lifespan of each bottle depends on the wine’s different physical characteristics, like alcohol, sugar, and even tannins.
By asking this question, you’ll learn about the wine’s freshness and quality retention potential after exposing the wine to air. This can help you plan your consumption and storage of the wine accordingly.
Question 10: What Would You Recommend Pairing This Wine With?
Why ask this question: The person serving your wine has tasted it several times, and they’ve probably taken home a bottle or two (or more likely several cases).
Your server has great ideas for food and wine pairing with the wine you’re tasting.
This fun question to ask at a wine tasting allows you to explore the wine’s potential food pairings and up your wine and food pairing skills.
Some servers have wild and nuanced pairing ideas – from seared porcini paninis to pancetta – just go with it!
The more you ask this question, the more you’ll start to think about wine and food together as an integrated sensory experience. Yummy!
Helpful Tip: Check out this post on the perfect foods to serve with your next red wine tasting.
Question 11: What Is Your Favorite Wine on the Tasting Menu?
Why ask this question: Your wine server has opinions. They’ve been tasting their wines for a while and will have a preference. Asking what their favorite wine is and why is a great way to let the wine expert share their personal preferences and recommendations from the tasting menu.
Personal Wine Fact: I love this wine tasting question. I ask it every time I go wine tasting!
Use your server as a master guide with their unique perspectives to help you explore wines you may not have considered before.
Final Thoughts – Fun Wine Tasting Questions
What are good questions to ask about wine? Questions that help you engage with your server, whether it’s a wine educator or winemaker, and that will open up your tasting experience.
From learning about the winery’s history and the grapes’ origin to understanding the wine’s style, blend, serving temperature, and food pairing recommendations, these questions can provide a stepping stone into the world of wine.
So, the next time you go on a wine tasting adventure, don’t hesitate to ask away!
Thirsty for More?
I’m a big believer and going wine tasting. It gives you the ability to taste lots of different wines at once. Check out this post on what you should do at a wine tasting. Here’s a great post on things you shouldn’t do at a wine tasting, too.
But how much does it actually cost? Here’s a fun post that explores: Is wine tasting expensive?
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 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.