Rules for visiting a wine tasting room

While the tasting room experience is commonplace for those of us who’ve lived in wine country for years and visit wineries often, it remains foreign territory for many others. Although even some of the more experienced tasting room visitors still need to be “educated”.

Here are some tasting room “how-to” tips:

Don’t wear fragrance. There goes your cologne dreams! Seems obvious, but scents can ruin the tasting experience for everyone within nose-shot.

Be open-minded: Drop pre-conceived preferences. Maybe you’ve never tasted a rosé you’ve liked, but go ahead and try what is being offered.

There are people who say that they do not like sweet wines at all, but then a “dryish” gewürztraminer turns out to be their favourite of the wines poured!

Don’t flex too much wine knowledge. Refrain from talking too technically in a tasting room because it will seem like you’re just showing off. And often the tasting room staff, who tend to be entry-level employees, don’t know as much as you’d think.

It’s fun – and educational – to deal with folks who know a lot about wine, but for the average tasting room employee, or guest, it probably isn’t that much fun.

But no matter who’s working, know-it-alls are no fun. Showing off is just that, showing off, and never appreciated. You may think you’re clever, others have a totally different opinion.

Go ahead and swallow. There’s no need to spit. It’s not all about education. It’s okay to drink a little and have some fun. But always be responsible.

But spit if you’re visiting a lot of tasting rooms. Moderate your intake. The bane of tasting rooms are drunk tasters.

And dump, too. It is not rude to pour out wines, even ones that you like. “Spit” and “dump” are four-letter words that should not be.

Don’t ask for the “good stuff.” Definitely don’t, but it’s okay to inquire whether there are any library or reserve wines open beyond the advertised flight. Just realize that special requests should increase your pressure to purchase wine.

Linger, but meaningfully. Retry wines if you are considering a purchase, so long as you aren’t getting drunk or disrupting the experience for others. Lingering is more often the fault of the winery than the taster.

Do buy wine. Some tasting rooms have a specific policy about waiving the tasting fee when a particular amount of wine is purchased. For others it’s a judgment call.

But don’t haggle. Don’t work it like a second-hand car deal. It’s just wine.

Tips? Depends. It’s a tasting room, not a bar.

Who still breaks the rules? It’s not the millennials. “We find that it’s the older patrons that violate the rules more than the young ones,” says a winemaker. “The younger tasters are usually more appreciative and considerate.”

(Source: Wine Enthusiast)

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