8 Things You Must Know Before Going Wine Tasting For The First Time

wine tasting for the first time

Looking for tips and strategies before going wine tasting for the first time? With a little planning, you can have a great time at your first tasting event.

Before going wine tasting, check to see if you need a reservation. You can get tasting fees waived if you join clubs or buy bottles. It’s okay to split tastings with your friend/date. Dump wines you don’t like. Remember to tip. Make a plan to get home safely. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated!

8 Things You Must Know Before Wine Tasting for the First Time at a Tasting Room

Planning a visit to a wine tasting room for the first time?

Wine tasting is a great way to learn about wines and explore different varietals (types) of wine without having to buy a bottle. Not to mention that it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. Here are some quick tips to get you swirling and sipping on your first wine tasting room visit.

1. Plan Ahead

vintage wine tasting room - wine tasting first time

The number one must-do is to plan your visit ahead of time. Many wine tasting rooms require a reservation.

Check the tasting bar’s social media or website before showing up.

Your spontaneous spirit may be disappointed if you try to go to a tasting room that’s already over-capacity on a weekend afternoon.

From the holiday season to private events, tasting rooms can be popular places. 

Despite knowing how important it is to make a reservation, I still forget this number one rule of wine tasting regularly and get burned.

One of my favorite local spots has amazing views and I’ve been known to show up with visiting houseguests only to see the ‘Closed for Private Event’ sign on the door.

Whoops. Plan ahead.

2. Always Hydrate

clear drinking glass filled with water - wine tasting -hydrate - wine tasting first time

Alcohol dehydrates. Professionals hydrate. You should, too. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your wine tasting adventure.

Your body will thank you.

Pro Tip: You can ask your host for water if it’s not already on the table or at the tasting bar.

3. Tasting Fees Can Be Waived

wine tasting for first time - paying for wine

Depending on where you live in the US, your tasting fees can be anywhere from the bargain price of **free** to +$50 dollars.

Many tasting rooms will comp the tasting fee if you join their wine club or buy a bottle of wine. Something to think about. 

Helpful Post: Check out this post on how much it actually costs to go wine tasting in different wine regions across the US (it’s more affordable than you think!)

4. You’ll Enjoy Flights

wine tasting for first time - wine glasses

What’s a tasting flight, you ask? It has nothing to do with airplanes, and everything to do with a trip through the wines being poured. The wine tasting bar will offer you a tasting menu, which lists the wines that are open and available to try.

The wines offered are listed from lightest (a zippy white) to fullest (a heavy red). This lineup of wines is the ‘tasting flight’, or just ‘flight’.

While you could taste the wines in any order, it’s expected that you’ll go in the order listed. Some wine bars will offer you different flights. One flight may be the standard wines and a separate flight may have premium wines (which logically cost more). 

Helpful Post: Here’s a full post on what wine flights are, how they work, and even some suggestions to host your own wine flights at home.

5. You Can Share

wine tasting for the first time - champagne

You can split your wine tasting. If you’re going as a couple, you can share the tasting glass.

Totally cool with the host.

Not keen on swapping spit?

Feel free to split the tasting flight up between two people. One can do reds, the other the whites, or however you feel like dividing up the tasting. Also cool with the server.

This saves you money and decreases the amount you’ll be drinking.

A budget-friendly and healthy choice.

6. Dump It!

first time wine tasting - spit bucket

If you don’t like a certain wine, you’ll find a convenient jar or spit cup on the counter where you can dump the wine out. If you don’t see the spittoon on the counter, just ask for it!

This isn’t considered impolite.

Everyone has different taste preferences and it’s understood that you can dump anything that doesn’t suit your personal style.

You do you.

7. Tipping – Bring Cash

first time wine taster tips

Leaving a tip for excellent service is highly appreciated by your tasting room host.

Tasting rooms don’t always have a tip line on credit card receipts as a courtesy to patrons.

The management may not want you to feel obliged to tip. However, I always bring cash along to the tasting room.

Helpful Tip: Here’s a more in-depth post that covers how much you should tip depending on the type of wine tasting you’re doing. It’s useful. Go check it out.

8. Make a Driving Plan

wine tasting for the first time - uber or lyft

Some regions have wine trails with wineries spread out that essentially necessitate driving between tasting rooms.

Especially if you’re not spitting your wine and plan on visiting more than one tasting room in an afternoon, you’ll need a transportation plan. Keep in mind that your tasting flight may be the equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine.

Have a plan for driving.

Famous wine regions often have a shuttle, bus, and even trolly services that are promoted by local chambers of commerce to help reduce drunk driving. 

Plan ahead.

Final Thought – Going Wine Tasting for the First Time

Wine tastings are the best way to learn more about wine because they allow you to sample several different wines side-by-side. You can start to figure out what you like and dislike when it comes to wines.

Your first time wine tasting can seem a little intimidating because, if you’ve never been, you just don’t know what to expect.

With a little preparation, like checking to see if you need a reservation and remembering to hydrate throughout your afternoon, you’re in for a fun event!

Thirsty for More?

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Check out this quick post on what you absolutely shouldn’t do while wine tasting.

Here are 11 more quick tips before heading out wine tasting to get the most out of your adventure.

Tasting fees are often waived if you join the wine club. But make sure to read this post to see if wine clubs are actually worth it before you sign up.

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!).

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 trip.

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.

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