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.
Wine is one of the truly universal beverages that not only crosses cultural distinctions but also serves an important role in religious rites and social circles all over the world. In fact, since its discovery, wine has had a tremendous impact on a number of different societies. Here is a look at the impact of wine throughout the centuries. Wine’s Beginnings Archeologists have found evidence that wine drinking began in 4000 B.C., possibly even as early as 6000 B.C. However, because winemaking methods were still being refined, wine wasn”t widely consumed during this time period. By looking at evidence, anthropologists have concluded that wine was first developed around the Fertile Crescent area, by the Caspian Sea in Mesopotamia, which is near present-day Iran. Wine in Ancient Egypt Wine began to penetrate other cultures as Egyptians started cultivating wine grapes and learning winemaking practices. In fact, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics in the tombs of the dead depict that wine was a significant part of ancient Egyptian culture as early as 2700 B.C. During this time, the Egyptians grew grapes now known as the Muscat grape of Alexandria, stomping and fermenting them in large vats. While generally only the wealthiest Egyptians, such as pharaohs, were able to enjoy wine, wine was widely available at religious ceremonies, namely during funerary rituals for the god Osiris, the Egyptian deity for death, life and fertility. Greco-Roman Civilization and Wine The Phoenicians, masters of seafaring, were likely the people who spread winemaking from the Middle East and Egypt to the Greek civilizations. Making wine in Greece is believed to have begun around 1600 B.C. Along with being used in social and religious circles, the Greeks also used wine for medicinal purposes. Specifically, the father of medicine, Hippocrates, prescribed it to his patients. Wine experts attribute the Romans with developing wine culture as we know it today. For example, the Romans started the practice of classifying wine by colors and grape varieties. By the first century, wine was being exported from Rome to Spain, Germany, England and early France. As these countries eventually developed their own vineyards and wine regions, they forbade the import of French wines to eliminate competition and bolster support of the local wines. Wine in the Middle Ages Over the centuries, France came to rule the wine market with its fine wine from vineyards in Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhine Valley. Because monks were the primary winemakers in France, wine once again assumed an important role in religious ceremonies, such as the sacrament of communion. While wine production and consumption flourished throughout Europe, it came to a sharp halt in the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, regions under Muslim control (such as Southern Spain, North Africa and North India) ceased any wine production due to the fact that it was forbidden by Islamic codes. In time, French wines also took a hit. Although England was the principal customer of Bordeaux by 1152, after the Hundred Years War during which France successfully expelled the English […]