Whether at a private wine tasting or at a vineyard, the rules of etiquette for wine drinking and tasting are the same. The following are some tips that will make you seem like a pro at your next wine tasting . . . host or guest. For the Host Serving Order At a dinner party women and older guests should be served first, then men, then the host. Body Count Invite only the number of tasters that can fit comfortably in your home (or other venue). A crowd around the tasting table can be intimidating and guests should not feel rushed when pouring a glass of wine. Water For those guests that get thirsty have bottled water on hand; also good for those that want to rinse their mouths between wines. A pitcher of water for rinsing glasses between tastings is recommended . . . and remember to have something into which your guest can discard their rinse water. Food and Wine Unsalted water crackers or unflavoured French bread should be provided for palate cleansing during the tasting. If you want to provide something more substantial, the rules of etiquette for wine drinking say that nothing stronger than a lightly salted mozzarella is appropriate. Save the stronger foods for after the wine tasting. For the Guest Handling a Wine Glass The proper way to hold any style of wine glass is by the stem. This keeps fingerprints off the bowl and keeps your hand from heating the wine. Perfume and Cologne Avoid wearing scent to a wine tasting affair. This includes perfumes, colognes, after-shaves, and scented hair spray or gel. Lighting Up Smoking at or just before a wine tasting will affect the taste of your wines. The smoke and odor of cigarettes or cigars not only interferes with the enjoyment of the taste and smell of the wines, it can be irritating to other guests, both smokers and non-smokers. Mints and Gum Bubble gum, chewing gum and breath mints will alter the taste of wine. Be sure to rinse your mouth well with water before beginning a tasting. Comments If you have negative comments about a wine, keep them to yourself, particularly when at a vineyard tasting room.
Tasting venues range from the casual, private wine tasting party with friends to the day trip to a local vineyard to formal wine tasting dinners. Wine Tasting Parties In addition to ensuring that you have enough wine, glasses, water and other necessities, it is important to consider the environment. Guests should be comfortable, this means enough seating, and not be bothered by annoying odours or insects. Avoid using incense or strong deodorizers, or even citronella candles, during or prior to a wine tasting. Wine tastings can either be done blind or with full knowledge. In a blind wine tasting each of the wines is concealed in a bag and identified only by a number until the end of the tasting. This tends to result in less bias . . . and it”s also fun to see if you can guess the wine. Wine Tasting Dinners A formal or semi formal dinner can follow a private wine tasting in your home, but most often wine tasting dinners are held at restaurants or vineyards. Prices range from very reasonable to quite costly. This is an excellent time to learn about paring food and wine from appetizer to dessert. Some dinners will pair food and wine along a theme, for instance, a selection of Australian wines to accompany authentic Australian cuisine. Wine tasting dinners typically require a reservation. Call the restaurant or winery well in advance to make a reservation and verify dress. Wine Tasting at Vineyards Most vineyards have tasting rooms so visitors can sample their wines after a tour of the grounds. One important thing to remember about participating in a tasting at a vineyard is that the main function of providing a tasting room to visitors is to sell wine. Many vineyards will also offer private wine tasting parties or dinners and are available for events such as weddings, birthdays and other special occasions.