First time Wine Tasting (Etiquette)
This isn’t an article about how to taste because there are tons of those, plus the wine pourers are always glad to help a newcomer. Although, if I find that I can offer a unique article on how to wine taste, I may look into that. At any rate, this article is more about etiquette.
So, you are new to tasting and aren’t sure what to expect. A good thing to remember is if you don’t like something, don’t be afraid to spit it back in the glass and pour it out. It may seem kind of gross and rude, but it’s actually an acceptable practice. They have pour buckets there just for that reason. Some people spit everything out even if they like it because they prefer not to get inebriated and want to focus on just the tasting.
It is okay to drink it and get slightly inebriated, but keep yourself together. We’ve all been at one of those crazy house parties where someone starts yelling profanities, doing the robot while heartily laughing. Everyone else just stares. Then from some smartass in the crowd, you hear the truly funny comment, “Yeah, I remember the first time I was drunk.” And you wished it was you who said it first. Well, tasting rooms are definitely not parties. If you can’t handle your alcohol and don’t know your limits, then don’t imbibe. I’ve seen too many occasions where a group of young college kids think tasting is another way to just get wasted and end up getting kicked out of the winery. That is pretty sad.
I know I just stated its okay to actually drink the wine. So, now is a good time to mention – and it should go without saying, but I am saying it anyway – make sure you have a designated driver. I’ve heard that in certain areas, the police actually look the other way at buzzed drivers. That isn’t a suggestion to drive buzzed. I believe it’s because the wineries drive in more profit for the cities/counties than DUI tickets as not getting caught encourages repeat visits and purchases. Regardless, don’t risk it, have a designated driver! Also, whether your driver is your friend, your mother, a homeless guy picked up from the street, or a paid limo service, it’s always nice to tip them with a bottle of wine that you buy on your adventure.
“It tastes like the back of a f**king L.A. school bus. Now they probably didn't de-stem, hoping for some semblance of concentration, crushed it up with leaves and mice, and then wound up with this rancid tar and turpentine bulls**t. F**kin' Raid!” I think now is a good time to mention: Don’t quote the movie Sideways. The film was great, it was funny and entertaining, and Paul Giamatti is a brilliant actor. However, it’s been over-quoted so much that most wine pourers are sick of it. No one think its funny anymore if you’re “Not drinking any F**king Merlot!” Oh, and since we are talking about Sideways – don’t ever drink from the pour bucket, even as a joke – that is beyond disgusting.
If your expectations are to go to a free tasting room and drink all the wine you want until you get drunk, lower your expectations. Some places do pour liberally and have a lot of wines to taste, but not all. You usually get nicer service and liberal pours if you frequent and purchase from a place repeatedly and they know you. Otherwise, you just seem like a schmuck looking for free alcohol. The environments are friendly and generally not in your face sales like you’re on a car lot, but it’s still a business for all wineries; boutique sized or mass produced. And, here’s a well known secret: depending on the area you’re in, tasting isn’t always free.
With all this sarcasm, it hardly seems like you can have any fun at all. But relax, talk about the wine, the food it can go with and enjoy the scenery. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything you don’t like. If you like what you taste, and you like the winery, buy a bottle, buy a case, support the winery; however, if you didn’t enjoy it, move on to another winery. You will have fun exploring each place and meeting the people involved. Good luck!
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