Wine Tasting Protocol and Courtesies While Visiting a Winery

Winery view of their vineyards from the patio offering tables and chairs for an enjoyable lunch or cheese pairing with their wine.

Visiting a winery is a very special experience.  Generally, a winery has created a beautiful comfortable area to welcome and serve their guests while tasting their wines.  It is customary to not wear perfumes and colognes since these will interfere with the tasting experience.  The wines you are to taste are available for sale and your tasting fee may be waived if a bottle is purchased.  So prior to the tasting, find out what wines are available to taste and all the particulars.  You may consider sharing a tasting to help limit the intake of alcohol.  This is especially helpful if you are visiting multiple wineries in a day.  A tour may be given prior to the tasting so a through introduction is made of the winery.  So make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a light wrap.  The tour may include a walk out to the vineyards and then into a cool cellar or cave.

As a guest in a winery, let them know your wine preferences and if you have any knowledge of them.  Are you a fan of their wines already or did you find them in the area and wish to learn about what they have to offer?  Feel free to ask questions during the tour and during the actual tasting.  This may be a beginning of a long friendship with the winery.

The tasting is usually served in a set flight of wines.  The winery will indicate the number of wines served and may ask your preferences of wines you like.   The flights start with the lighter wines first then moves through to more robust wines later in the tasting with sweet dessert wines served last.

Professional wine tasters use a practice of not swallowing the wine.  They would go through the step of wine tasting as mentioned in “Encompassing All Senses During Wine Tasting” and then spit the wine into a cup before swallowing.  This would then be emptied into a dump bucket commonly available on the tasting bar.  Be careful not to pour your remaining wine in a water pitcher that also may be on the wine tasting bar.  Ask the wine server about the location of the dump bucket.  If you are doing lots of wine tasting, you may also want to use this practice to avoid being affected by the alcohol of the wine.

Enjoy talking to others tasting the wine. Hear what they have experienced of the wine.  Your wine server may have time to discuss your experience and what are the particular wine descriptors.  Discuss the flavors.  Generally, there are written tasting notes on each of the wines served during the tasting.  See if you can taste the flavors noted in the description.  Not all wines available at the winery may be to your liking.  Be polite and dump the remaining wine into the dump bucket.  We all have our favorites wines and others that are not to our liking.  With more wine tasting experience, it is common for our palates to develop.  A wine varietal that was not to your liking, later on, may become a favorite.  Wine tasting can be an adventure that we travel through during our lives with our tastes changing with time and experience.

If you enjoyed the winery’s wines, look into joining their wine club.  This is where the winery gives members special discounts and ships a few bottles periodically to them.  There may be other benefits too.  These should be listed on their wine club brochure.  There may be annual wine club parties, dinners, trips or other special events for members only.


Wine thief is a glass device for taking a bit of wine out of a barrel. Notice the servers index finger is over the hole in the top of the glass tube.

A winemaker has worked hard to get the wine to the state it is at during your tasting.  Appreciate the craft and time of the process to create a glass of wine.  Be polite, even if you are not fond of the some of the wine.  We have found that a winemaker that sees you are really enjoying their wine, may give you a very special tasting called a barrel tasting.  Barrel tasting uses a device called a thief to draw a sample of wine directly from a barrel.  Wine in the barrel is still in the ageing process of gathering flavors from the oak.  This is a very special tasting which can lead to buying wine futures.

After the tasting, it is enjoyable to purchase a favorite wine from the winery tasting and enjoy a lunch or snack on the facility.  Many wineries have gorgeous sitting areas for this very purpose of enjoying the view of the vineyard while sipping their wine.


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