The Etiquette Rules You Should Follow When At A Winery

Spending an afternoon or evening at a winery is a delightful sensory experience. Not only do you get to drink some delicious vino, but you also get to do it in a gorgeous setting. Whether it is a vineyard where they grow the grapes or an urban tasting room designed to give a similar intimate feeling, most are happy to serve anyone from complete noobs to wine professionals.

Too often, however, people avoid visiting vineyards and wineries because they are intimidated or feel nervous about accidentally committing a breach of etiquette. The good news is that while some of the descriptions wine connoisseurs use may seem mysterious, most rules of etiquette at wineries are pretty easy to understand; they're usually designed to show respect for others or to help you enjoy your wine or the experience as much as possible. If there is one rule, it's really just to be a considerate person. That said, there are a few things you may not think of at first.

Go perfume-free for a better experience

When you visit a winery, you may notice people sniffing the wine before and while sipping it. One of the most crucial rules is to avoid perfumes and heavily scented products when you visit a winery. This is both for your own enjoyment and in consideration of others. Your sense of smell greatly affects your sense of taste (per UConn Health); as such, the former is just as important as the latter when winetasting. Really, this is true whenever you eat or drink since flavor results from the combination of both senses. So, your favorite perfume can actually change the way the wine tastes for better or worse. If someone downwind from you buys a case of wine based on the flavor they experienced, they may feel disappointed in their investment once they get it home to learn it isn't what they expected.

Plan to use unscented products or very mildly scented ones, including soap, when you visit a winery. You will have a better experience, and so will those around you. While you are at it, you may also prefer to avoid flavored lipgloss or balm, which can alter the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine, even though that doesn't affect others in the same way as cologne or perfume.

Enjoy responsibly

Another essential etiquette to follow is to drink responsibly, which means pacing your alcohol intake and preparing a safe way to get home. Recruit a friend to be the designated driver, book an overnight stay at a nearby hotel or inn, or go on an organized wine-tasting tour that includes transportation. If the winery is in a rural area, an Uber or Lyft may be expensive but worth it if you are tasting as a group.

You could also follow the lead of wine professionals and buyers who taste a lot of wine and spit it out into a designated receptacle to avoid intoxication. They still enjoy the full-tasting experience since they swish the wine around in their mouths to get the full flavor. Believe it or not, this is one situation where spitting is acceptable, as long as you use the spittoon. Of course, the choice is yours. If you have a designated driver, you are welcome to drink.

In the same vein, it's also important to stay hydrated, especially if you're visiting a vineyard on a hot day. According to the Cleveland Clinic, alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration. At the same time, symptoms of dehydration are similar to being intoxicated, making it easy to become sick from an amount of alcohol you could normally handle. Water is hydrating, and it's a great palette cleanser, making it easier for you to taste your next sample free of the flavor from the previous wine. Winery etiquette is very practical once you understand it, making it easy to avoid a misstep.

Show support and courtesy

The final guideline is to show respect to the venue and its staff. Even better, if you enjoy the wine and the experience, show your support. The easiest ways to show support are to tip your servers and purchase a bottle or two of your favorite wines. Wineries often offer discounts when you buy directly from them instead of a shop, and they may even offer exclusive varieties only available in their tasting room.

When your server brings you a flight or a sample, they will most likely want to tell you about the specific wine. Wait until after they finish speaking before you sample the wine or pick up the glass. Every bottle of wine has a story, and learning about wine is a big part of wine culture. It also helps you learn what you like and what you don't like, possibly saving you money the next time you buy wine in the grocery store or restaurant. Finally, feel free to ask for recommendations or to ask questions.

A day at the winery can be a memorable experience filled with delightful flavors, beautiful scenery, and interesting stories. By keeping these etiquette tips in mind, you can enhance your wine-tasting experience and ensure a pleasant visit for everyone. So, don't let the fear of committing a faux pas hold you back. Instead, relax, enjoy the experience, and raise a glass to good times!