Wine is a staple in many diets in countless cultures and countries. Itís an ingredient which both enhances and has enough personality to stand alone. No matter if you are in Napa or Naples, wine can enhance a meal, add to the conversation and supplement the flavor of food. Itís easy to enjoy a glass of wine anywhere.
A favorite past time is wine tasting. Expert or novice, tasting rooms cater to both. The tasting rooms of wineries are a great resource for learning about wine or to increase your existing knowledge. You can sample wine, become educated about certain wines paired with specific food and generally appreciate something which tends to confound just as many individuals as those who truly appreciate a nice glass.
Whether at a winery or wine shop, there is a correct etiquette which should be observed. Children should not be brought to a tasting room. Wineries do not tend to cater to children, nor do the other potential customers anticipate little ones at a venue such as this. Most tasting rooms have a bar with seats surrounding it. If in the tasting room of a winery, you will typically be treated to at least four wines they have available. If you fall into the novice category, make sure those pouring know this. Itís always fun to teach along with pouring tasters.
When tasting, you will traditionally begin with the whites. White wines are lighter in both body and taste Ė as compared to red wine. As you sip the various wines, you will also be introduced to how the grapes are harvested and where, what types of grapes made this particular wine and some local information is typically available. This is also an opportunity to hear some local trivia or special happenings in and around the winery itself.
Unsalted water crackers or unflavored bread is usually provided for palate cleansing during tasting. Much like the nose needs a break when sniffing perfume (by inhaling coffee beans); your palate needs to balance out between tasters of wine. Usually there is nothing more substantial served at a tasting. This is because you are not there for lunch or even a snack. You entered this place of business to taste wines.
When handling a wine glass, hold it by the stem. Your hand emits heat and the change in temperature can adjust the flavor of the wine. By holding the stem your fingerprints are kept off the bowl of the glass. You may want to avoid wearing heavy perfume, cologne or after-shave. Smoke is another deterrent to wine tasting. Smoking at or just before tasting wine will affect the taste. The odor of cigarettes and cigars not only interferes with the enjoyment of the taste and smell of the wines, it can be irritating to other guests Ė both smokers and non. Mints and bubble gum are other items which affect the smell and taste of the wine. Rinsing your mouth well with water before beginning a tasting will help with this.
While tasting, you are not required to drink the entire sample. You can discard the wine you donít like. All tasting rooms supply a receptacle where you can pour the wine you donít enjoy into. Donít feel like you must sample every wine offered. Taste wine that you find appealing. If you enjoyed a particular glass of wine, it is also acceptable to ask for a second taste.
If you enjoyed a particular sample of wine you may ask for a second tasting. This is also an opportunity to ask about the grapes, what it pairs well with anything the pourer might suggest about it. It is in good taste to buy a bottle of that one when you have completed your tasting. There are many wineries who charge a tasting fee. The reasons for this are many. Some instances require them to charge because wineries are giving free samples and when tasters arrive with no intention of purchasing wine, there is no benefit to the small business whose premises you are gracing. If you choose to buy a bottle of wine the tasting fee is often applied to the purchase. It is not mandatory that you purchase wine. If you truly donít enjoy any of the samples, you should only buy what you like. If, however, you have made an appointment at a small winery, it is in good taste to make a purchase.
Aside from learning about a particular bottle of wine and how it came to be, you are typically supporting a local small business. You are receiving some great information and being educated on wine, bottles, corks, grapes, etc. After spending time in a wine tasting room, be sure to purchase at least one bottle of wine. This is your chance to thank this company for entertaining you by purchasing. This is the final etiquette point. Many will balk at this suggestion and question whether or not they like the wine they tasted. Thatís where a little pre-planning and consideration comes in. You have essentially received the equivalent of a drink, lots of education and some serious entertainment. Purchasing one bottle of wine covers the time you took from this business owner.