Tasting Room Etiquette

The tasting room guide contains all you need to know to survive the rituals of the tasting room. Look calm and relaxed like a veteran wine taster. We have visited as many as 1000 tasting rooms over 45 years of traveling to the wine country. Learn what to do and not do in the tasting room.

Surviving the tasting room game

    • Enter the tasting room and survey the situation. Head to the spot where everyone is tasting.
    • A host will greet you and get you started with wine glasses and explain what wines are available for tasting and explain the tasting fees and different choices for tasting wine.
    • Tasting rooms vary from the very elaborate to a simple table set up in the winemaking area.
    • White wines are tasted first, followed by red wines, and then dessert wines.
    • Taste each wine carefully and savor each sip. See our guide on how to taste wine.
    • Most wineries will have a sheet of tasting notes. Read the tasting notes as you taste and see if you notice any of the aromas or flavors listed in the notes.
    • Skipping any of the wines on the tasting list is okay. Some people just want to taste the reds. Some may be interested in tasting only certain varietals of wine.
    • Usually, you would not ask for a second taste of one particular wine unless you indicate that you are interested in purchasing the wine.

  • You do not have to drink all the wine in your glass. Toss the unwanted wine in your glass into the dump bucket provided for this purpose.
  • The host suggests a rinse for your glass, that means the host will pour a small amount of the next wine into your glass. This is not to drink but rinse away the old wine from your glass. Swirl the wine and empty into the dump bucket.
  • Sometimes a neutral food will be provided, such as plain crackers. The purpose of the food is to clear the palate after tasting each particular wine.
  • Some tasting rooms will require that you pay a fee to taste the wine. Some wineries apply this fee to a purchase. Others might include a souvenir glass with the fee. Some tasting rooms have a two tier fee, one for the main line of wines and one for reserve wines
  • When a fee is charged, it is usually okay for two people to share one glass and pay only one tasting fee.
  • Finally, whatever you do, do not act like a wine snob.