Wine Tasting for Beginners

We get a lot of first-time wine tasters here at Sharrott Winery – and we love it! It’s so much fun to introduce someone to the wonderful world of wine. And we find that newbies have a lot of questions about doing things the right way.

While we believe that wine tasting should be fun, not ‘stuffy,’ there are certainly some unwritten rules about wine tasting that can enhance your tasting experience. So we thought we’d revisit our Wine Tasting Etiquette 101 post. There are great tips here for beginners and more experienced wine tasters alike.

429142_10150605469625419_139378513_nWhen you come to Sharrott Winery’s tasting room, we don’t expect you to know anything about our wines. Learning more about us and what we do is why you’re here!

But there are a few unwritten rules of tasting that may be helpful to know. These tips work in any tasting room and will help make your wine tasting experience much more enjoyable.

Wine Tasting Etiquette 101

Call the winery or check the website for hours and special events. A good tasting takes time and should not be rushed. If you don’t like crowds, you may want to visit on a weekday when the winery is generally less busy. Sometimes the winery will require that you make a reservation if you are bringing a large group. This insures that we have enough staff on hand to meet your needs and that you have a good time!

Ladies, don’t bring a big purse to the tasting. First of all, you will get tired of juggling your purse and a wine glass. Plus, you don’t want to bump into other tasters with your bag. Some wineries do have hooks under the bar (like we do), but believe me, you need two hands to do a wine tasting!

Always ask before eating any food set out on the tasting bar. Some wineries provide snacks free of charge. Others don’t. You will be very embarrassed if you steal someone’s cheese (believe me, I know)!

You don’t need to rinse your glass with water between every wine. Water will dilute your next taste much more than than the little drop of wine left in your glass. Generally, I recommend that tasters rinse if they are moving from a red wine to a white wine.

Spitting is optional. Professional tasters who try more than 50 wines in a sitting have to do this, or they won’t be able to stand up at the end of the day! If you are just tasting 6 to 8 wines, you don’t need to do this. Still, most wineries have several dump or spit buckets for this purpose. If you do choose to spit, just make sure you know which container to use. And please, don’t spit in my tip cup!

Feel free to dump a wine that you don’t like. We will not be offended (most of the time). Remember, you are here to try the wines. If you don’t like it, dump it out and try something else.

Wine tasting rooms should be a fragrance-free zone. Heavy perfumes or lotions really overwhelm the senses and can adversely affect a tasting. You won’t fully appreciate the wine, nor will the people standing close to you.

Ask questions. The winemaker and staff are thrilled that you are interested in their winery. They want you to know more about it! Just remember that others may be waiting for a tasting, so perhaps move off to the side if you have a lot of questions.

When you taste a wine – sniff, swirl and sip. The aroma of a wine plays a large part in how it tastes, and swirling releases the aromas as you sip the wine. If you do this, others around you will think you’re a wine-tasting pro!

Feel free to compliment a wine that you really like, but please refrain from trashing a wine that doesn’t suit you. Just quietly dump it out and move on. Someone next to you might really like that wine, and we don’t like fights at the bar!

Finally, have fun! Wine tastings are wonderful, social events that bring together a wide variety of people with a wide variety of tastes. It’s fun to bond with complete strangers over the sweet nectar of the grape!

We look forward to seeing you for your next tasting at Sharrott Winery.

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