Wine Tasting Etiquette— Things to Do & Things to Avoid

Whether you’re an experienced wine taster or you’re completely new to the experience, visiting wineries and tasting rooms is a fun way to try new wines and learn your own preferences. Especially if you’re planning your first-ever wine tasting trip, you’re probably wondering about how to behave when tasting wines in public at a tasting room.

What’s the proper way to hold a wine glass? How much is appropriate to drink? Is it better to spit or swallow? Should you tip? Keep reading to find out what to do at a wine tasting, and what not to do!


Couple wine tasting and having lunch on Tour DeVine helicopter wine tour in Oregon


DO Go in With an Open Mind

It’s never a bad thing to know what you like and don’t like, but wine tasting is the perfect time to experience something new or give a flavor you haven’t liked in the past another try. After all, you’re tasting, not committing to buying a bottle of everything you sip. You never know when a wine is going to surprise you while tasting, so go in open-minded and try a variety of wines!


AVOID Wearing a Fragrance

A big part of the wine tasting experience is the aromas, and wearing a strong perfume or aftershave is the fastest way to spoil that element of the tasting for yourself and others. Competing fragrances can also alter your perception of how the wines taste. That’s why it’s best not to wear any fragrance at all when you visit a winery or tasting room.

Failla wine bottle at tasting room in Oregon


DO Cleanse Your Palate

If water is provided, it’s a good idea to take a sip and even swill your glass between each pour to cleanse your palate of the previous wine. There may also be crackers or other small hors d’oeuvres. Just keep in mind that these are provided to help you cleanse your palate — they’re not a substitute for a meal.


AVOID Drinking Too Much, Too Fast

Wine tasting is supposed to be fun, and it’s perfectly fine to drink a bit and have a good time. But especially if you’re new to the experience, it’s easy to drink more than you intended, and intoxicated tasters are notoriously annoying.

While it’s not necessary or expected that you adhere to some predetermined tasting method, following these steps and taking your time with each wine can help you get the most out of each pour and help you avoid drinking too fast:

  • Look: Take a close look at the color, clarity, and overall appearance of the wine.
  • Swirl: Focus on the viscosity; more droplets sticking to the side means higher alcohol content.
  • Smell: Bring the glass to your nose and take in the aromas; think about what you smell and don’t smell, and anticipate what the wine will taste like.
  • Sip: Finally, take a sip, let it roll around in your mouth for a moment, and savor the taste.

Woman smelling wine at Youngberg Hill tasting room in Oregon


DO Spit or Dump

Tasting rookies may be surprised to discover that it’s perfectly fine to make use of spittoons during a wine tasting. Especially when you’re visiting multiple wineries or tasting rooms in one day, it can actually be a good idea to restrain your wine intake by spitting or dumping.


AVOID Holding Your Glass By The Bowl

At a tasting, always hold your glass by the stem. Holding it by the bowl not only means you’ll get fingerprints on the glass that obscure your view of the wines, but it also impacts the temperature of the wine, which hinders your ability to taste it. Believe it or not, holding your glass by the stem is one of the absolute musts of wine-tasting etiquette!

Winery staff woman explaining wine at wine tasting


DO Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the host or pourer if you have a question about a wine. If you’d like to know the background or method behind the making of a certain wine you’re tasting, feel free to ask away. In general, when it comes to wine tasting, there are no stupid questions. In fact, asking questions shows you’re interested and enriches your tasting experience!


AVOID Acting Like an Expert, Unless You Are One

Always feel free to give your opinion and share your thoughts on the wines with the group, but try to avoid acting like a wine snob or an industry expert, unless you are one of course!

The great thing about giving your opinion at a wine tasting is that there are no “right” answers, and your idea of the perfect wine may be completely different from someone else’s! So sip away and discuss the wines, but avoid being that person who makes the experience more serious than it needs to be.


DO Feel Free to Tip the Pourer

Most wineries charge a tasting fee, which allows you to sip away guilt-free without leaving a tip! Many even waive the fee if you buy a certain number of bottles of wine. Even though it’s not typically expected, at most wineries and tasting rooms, tips are always appreciated. Especially if you’ve had a great experience, tasted more wines than you expected to, or are with a large group, tipping your pourer is typically considered a lovely gesture.

Wine tasters next to helicopter on Tour DeVine trip

Show Off Your Wine Tasting Etiquette and Enjoy Scenic Views

Enjoy great wines and a truly unique tasting experience by booking a helicopter tour with Tour DeVine. Skip the designated driver and let us chauffeur you from one tasting room to the next in style. You and your party will fly above the gorgeous rolling hills of Oregon wine country, stop at some of the country’s most beautiful wineries, and taste the region’s most coveted wines!

Book your tour today, contact us online, or give us a call at (503) 687-3816.