Important Things to Remember While Visiting a Winery
Most wineries around the country are family run, and have been passed from generation to generation and, just like any family, they value their traditions and you should consider yourself a guest when visiting one and, as such, act like one. Simple etiquette and good manners can make the difference between a good day out wine tasting and a horrible experience for everyone.
1. Don’t wear perfumes or cologne
When going wine tasting, avoid any fragrances, however strong. The sense of smell plays an incredibly huge role in the tasting process, and wines happen to have a really sensitive aroma that must be wholly felt so you know exactly what you taste. Perfumes, even the mildest ones, could potentially meddle with the taste and flavour of the wine, and it is, in fact, a cardinal rule when tasting wine – don’t wear scents.
In the end, what you taste at the winery and the taste you experience later on after your purchase may turn out to be completely different.
2. Listen before you speak
Nobody likes a know-it-all, and the folks over at the winery are no exception. Most of them have been making wines their whole lives and for generations and will probably not need your expert opinions. Instead, do there what you are there to do – be a gracious, polite guest, enjoy the drinks and listen as the makers talk about their professional process.
While you may have a lot of knowledge about wines, common etiquette must still be observed; a little modesty from you won’t hurt.
3. Do what you are there to do: taste
Remember that you are there to taste the wine and if you like it, to go ahead and buy from them as a sign of regard. You should remember that it is not a bar, and you are not there to drink whole glasses of wine. Instead, buy the bottle and maybe have a picnic.
Make sure you taste at least a few varieties of wine and don’t be afraid to spit it out. In fact, spitting out the wine usually means you are there to taste more than a few types of wine. When you are done, make sure you buy a bottle or two from then as a token of appreciation for their patience with you, letting you taste and informing you about all the varieties inquired about. Most wineries will be more than happy to sell you a few bottles, the exception being some Bordeaux chateaux who don’t sell anything at all.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask the winemakers questions. Be as inquisitive as possible about every possible aspect of the wines, with questions like ‘what makes this establishment so distinctive from the others?’
If you’ve gone to the winery as a group, be sure to listen to what the winemaker says, instead of chatting with your friends or spending the whole time on your phone. Give them feedback on what you think about the wine and the winery, because they are definitely curious to know what you think. You should make a point to be just as curious too.
Pro tip: Ask where the grapes are grown. You could be lucky enough to visit the vineyard and have some of the best grapes you have ever had.
5. Be polite
If the winery has a vineyard attached to it, chances are you are going to find yourself visiting it one way or another. While there, be a polite visitor and address yourself to the responsible vineyard worker or guide before taking actions, such as tasting grapes – in which case they will most likely direct you to the grapes that are ripe for testing, and better yet, which are the best.
Most of the things the guide does are with a purpose. For example, if they have you taste the reds before the whites, don’t be the snot who says ‘That’s not how wine is tasted’, rather, be the gracious guest who asks ‘Why do you taste the reds before the whites?’ Such slight remarks and mannerisms could be the difference between a great day and an awful experience
6. Be social
The wine tasting room, with all its sophistication, has little tolerance for loud outside noises and voices. Low, conversational tones are perfect and will fit in well with talking about the wines you have tasted and when you meet other wine enthusiasts who have common tastes.
Take your time to talk to other visitors – they may have an interesting story or two to share about their passions for wine, or on the other hand, may know nothing. If they happen to be newbies, help them out in the process – do not belittle their opinions. Nobody likes a wine snob.
- Call in advance if you are in a group larger than five. Some wineries don’t have lots of parking space for buses or vans, while others like to know in advance so they can provide enough staff.
- Don’t drink or taste wine on an empty stomach. The more food you have in your stomach, the less the alcohol will affect you, so make sure you eat well before visiting the winery. If the weather is hot, don’t forget to carry and drink a lot of water.
- Many wineries encourage visitors to bring along picnic lunch, especially if you’d prefer to drink more wine, rather than just taste it. You should, however, ask in advance if you should bring along lunch and where to picnic on the grounds. Other wineries have a restaurant on site and you can grab a pre-tasting meal there.
- Do not carry wine from another winery or any other kind of alcohol. The law restricts wineries from having other forms of alcohol on their premises and they only allow their own alcohol on their premises.
This list is as exhaustive as it gets and you are now ready to go out and have yourself a good time.