Wine Tasting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Your Next Wine Tour

Wine Tasting Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts for Your Next Wine Tour

As the popularity of wine tours continues to rise, it is more important than ever to understand the proper etiquette when participating in a wine tasting. 

By adhering to these do’s and don’ts, you can enhance your experience and show respect for the winemakers and fellow enthusiasts you encounter along the way.

When attending a wine tasting, be sure to hold your glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine with your body heat. 

This small gesture can make a big difference in the flavor profile of the wine you are sampling. 

Additionally, be mindful of your surroundings and avoid wearing strong scents that could interfere with the aromas of the wine.

Next, it is important to taste the wine in the order it is presented to you. Winemakers carefully curate the tasting experience to highlight the unique characteristics of each wine, so following their lead will ensure you get the most out of the experience. 

Remember to take small sips and swish the wine around your mouth to fully appreciate the flavors.

In the next part of this article, we will explore the importance of asking questions during a wine tasting. 

Not only does this show your interest and enthusiasm for the wines being presented, but it can also enhance your understanding of the winemaking process and the stories behind each bottle. 


Sip, don’t gulp

When participating in a wine tasting, it is important to remember that this is not a race. Take small sips of wine and savor the flavors. 

Swirl the wine in your glass to release its aromas before taking a sip. This will allow you to fully appreciate the complexities of each wine you taste.

Taste in order

Most wine tastings will have a specific order in which wines should be tasted. Typically, you will start with lighter white wines and progress to heavier red wines. 

Following this order will help protect your palate and ensure that you can fully taste each wine without overwhelming your taste buds.

3. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during a wine tasting. Winery staff are there to help guide you through the tasting experience and can provide valuable information about the wines you are tasting. 

Ask about the grape varietals, the winemaking process, and any specific tasting notes they recommend.


Wear strong scents

When attending a wine tasting, it is important to avoid wearing strong perfumes or colognes. Strong scents can interfere with your ability to smell and taste the wine properly. 

Opt for a more neutral fragrance or skip the perfume altogether to fully appreciate the wines you are tasting.

2. Hog the pour

During a wine tasting, it is important to remember that you are sharing the experience with others. 

Avoid hogging the pour by taking too much wine in your glass or repeatedly asking for more pours. 

Be mindful of others in your group and allow everyone the opportunity to taste each wine.

Make negative comments

While it is okay to have personal preferences when it comes to wine, it is important to remember that taste is subjective. 

Avoid making negative comments about the wines you are tasting, as this can be disrespectful to the winery and the winemaker. 

Instead, focus on the positive aspects of each wine and try to appreciate its unique qualities.

Pros of Wine Tasting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Your Next Wine Tour

  • Enhances the overall experience: By following proper wine tasting etiquette, you can fully enjoy and appreciate the flavors and aromas of different wines. This helps in making your wine tour a memorable and enjoyable experience.
  • Shows respect for the winery and staff: Adhering to wine tasting etiquette demonstrates your respect for the hard work and dedication that goes into producing and serving wine. This can lead to a more positive interaction with winery staff and fellow visitors.
  • Allows you to learn more about wine: Following the do’s and don’ts of wine tasting etiquette can help you gain a deeper understanding of the wine-making process and the various characteristics of different wines. This can enhance your knowledge and appreciation of wine.
  • Helps to maintain a pleasant atmosphere: Proper wine tasting etiquette ensures that everyone in the tasting room can enjoy their experience without any disruptions or unpleasant behaviors. This contributes to a harmonious and relaxing atmosphere during your wine tour.

Cons of Wine Tasting Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Your Next Wine Tour

While wine tasting can be a delightful experience, there are certain etiquettes and rules to be followed that may not always sit well with everyone. 

Here are some cons associated with adhering to wine tasting etiquette do’s and don’ts:

Restrictions on Tasting Order

One of the common etiquette rules in wine tasting is to follow a specific order when tasting different wines, usually starting with white and moving on to red. 

This may limit the freedom of individuals who prefer to taste wines based on their personal preferences or curiosity, rather than adhering to a strict order.

Limitations on Tasting Technique

Another etiquette rule involves the way wine should be tasted, including swirling, smelling, and sipping in a certain manner. 

Some individuals may find this restrictive and feel pressured to conform to a standardized technique, even if they have their own preferred way of enjoying wine.

Pressure to Purchase

Many wineries and tasting rooms expect visitors to make a purchase after tasting their wines, leading to a sense of obligation or pressure for visitors. 

This can detract from the enjoyment of the tasting experience and make individuals feel uncomfortable or obligated to buy wine they may not necessarily want.

Formal Atmosphere

Some wine tours and tastings may adopt a formal or pretentious atmosphere, which can be off-putting for visitors who prefer a more relaxed and casual setting. 

Strict adherence to etiquette rules may contribute to this formal atmosphere, making the experience less enjoyable for some individuals.

Wine Tasting Etiquette


In conclusion, while adhering to wine tasting etiquette can enhance your overall experience during a wine tour, it’s important to recognize that these guidelines aren’t without their drawbacks. 

While they aim to facilitate a more enjoyable and respectful environment for all participants, they may inadvertently impose restrictions on individual preferences and create feelings of pressure or formality.

However, despite these potential cons, the benefits of following wine tasting etiquette shouldn’t be overlooked. 

By respecting the tasting order, asking questions, and avoiding disruptive behaviors, you not only show appreciation for the craft of winemaking but also contribute to a more harmonious and educational atmosphere for yourself and others.

Ultimately, striking a balance between adhering to etiquette guidelines and allowing for personal enjoyment and exploration is key. 

Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of wine tasting, approaching each tasting experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn will undoubtedly lead to a richer and more fulfilling journey through the world of wine.


Should I wear perfume or cologne to a wine tasting?

No, it’s best to avoid wearing any strong scents like perfume, cologne, or heavily scented lotions as they can interfere with your ability to smell the wine’s aromas. 

The sense of smell is crucial in wine tasting.

Is it okay to spit out the wine after tasting?

Yes, spitting is not only acceptable but encouraged at formal wine tastings. It allows you to taste many wines without becoming intoxicated. 

Use the spittoon provided or bring your own portable spittoon.

How should I hold the wine glass?

Hold the glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine with your hands. 

Swirling the wine helps release its aromas, but don’t swirl too vigorously or it may spill.

Can I take notes during the tasting?

Absolutely, taking notes is recommended to help you remember the wines you liked. Bring a notebook and pen, or use the notes app on your phone.

Is it rude to eat before or during a wine tasting?

It’s generally advised not to eat anything too flavorful before a tasting as it can dull your palate. 

However, having a few neutral crackers or bread during the tasting can help cleanse your palate between wines.