Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tasting Room Etiquette & Tips

So there are a few tips plus do's and don't for the tasting room that I wanted to share with you. For those of you serious about wine tasting - read up! This information will hopefully help you and the staff at the tasting room have the best experience.

1) Serious wine tasters go tasting during the week vs. the weekend. Why? Because they want to actually speak with the tasting room staff vs. fighting lines of folks to get a pour of "Red #1." If you want to hear the story of the winery and find out more about the wine, you need to go when it is quiet so that staff has time to speak to you. If they are slammed with a lots of folks or a large group, you have to understand that they just can't take the time to tell you all that they'd like to.

Now many folks can only go tasting on the weekends. What to do? My advice is to try to hit the busier ones early on a Saturday and later in the day on a Sunday. Saturday afternoons till close are crazy, plus on Sunday folks like to try to hit a few more before the leave out of town. Save the smaller, out of the way wineries at these peak times as usually the crowds that are out and about at the busiest times are hitting the "big boy" wineries.

2) Please don't get crazy drunk. There are of course the groups that are celebrating a birthday and go wine tasting, hopping from winery to winery drinking all that they can. But this usually is just a quest to get drunk, vs. a quest to "wine taste." Please know if you're partying in a big group, you're affecting the experience of others in the tasting room that would like a "real" experience. Go to a bar to get drunk! Go wine tasting to learn about the wines in the region :)

3) Spitting is OK - and recommended! Though I have a hard time with it as I just don't feel like I taste the wine the same when I spit. In fact, I've had wine that I know is flat or flabby, and folks that spit think it's fine. Personally, I take a sip or two of the wine I'm tasting, then dump the rest - unless I really love it, of course!

4) Please keep chapstick & lipstick at a minimum. It doesn't really come off in the dishwasher and it's hard for tasting room folks to rub off the glass. if you do have lipstick on, one idea would be to get a napkin and wipe the lipstick off of the glass before you leave so that you don't leave a big mess behind.

5) Don't wash you glass out with water in between pours. Water can dilute and change the PH of the wine. I find that it ends up giving a musty odor to the wine. You really don't need to rinse from wine to wine as it really doesn't have an affect - unless you're going from a sweet to dry wine, there's residue in your glass, or you really hated the last wine. If you need to rinse, just have the pourer rinse the glass with a little of the wine you're about to have - they'll be happy to do it for you.

6) Gratuities are always appreciated. Have you been to a bar, ordered a drink, gotten your drink then left a tip at the bar? When wine tasting, you taste through many wines, and if the wine pourer is good, you get tons of information about the wine, winery, vineyards, area and beyond. You might even get a barrel tour or vineyard tour. A tasting room attendant usually gives you so much more information than a bartender - then why don't you leave them a tip? If they've helped your learn something, or if they've helped you & your friends as a larger group, they definitely deserve a tip.

7) Buying wine. If you're paying a tasting fee, don't fee obligated to buy the wine. Of course if you like it, buy! But don't feel obligated. But if you start asking the wine pourer to open wines specifically for you, you should buy some wine. You don't necessarily have to buy the wine you asked to be open, but out of courtesy for the trouble, you should invest in some wine.

8) For industry folks that get to taste for free: We get to taste so that we can learn about all the wines in the area and can give recommendations on our favorites. We always feel that we need to buy when we go tasting, but that is ridiculous on the salary we make! Leaving a small tip is a great way to say thank you to the pourer, while not feeling obligated to spend half of your paycheck on a bottle of wine :)

I hope these tips help you navigate your nest tasting room experience more efficiently!

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