Wine Tasting Room Etiquette

(Republished by permission from Amy Lieberfarb)

Tips From The Pros… Is YOUR glass ready?!?

1. It’s a good idea to call ahead (a day or two in advance) to speak with the places that you want to visit.

2. Comfortable, casually elegant clothing is the name of the game in Wine Country and helps to set the tone for a more sophisticated as well as relaxed event.

3. Do NOT wear heavy perfumes or scents when inside a tasting room for two main reasons, other visitors are interested in smelling the wine and not your cologne; and like a hospital, it is a sign of respect for both the other patrons of the establishment and also the winery itself. There are many people who have adverse reactions to strong scents.

4. Remember to eat along the way and to pace yourself when it comes to sipping wine. In only 4 or 5 small pours of wine for a “taste” one consumes on average a standard glass of wine. This adds up quickly if visiting more than one tasting room. Eating along the way helps too which also leads up to the next item on your checklist…

5. Hydrate! Remember to drink water, a good ratio being equal amounts if not more of water than to wine. You can thank yourself the next day when you are still hydrated.

6. Always have plans for drivers. A designated (non-drinking) driver, Uber, private concierge driving services and more are all available in Wine Country. One nice thing about most tourist regions when it comes to wine is that they promote various public means and others to help people get around safely.

7. Most wineries (if not all) charge a tasting room fee. And who wants to go to the winery giving free tastings anyway?!? Call ahead, check the website to find out more. This can also help to plan your tasting room visit. Wineries often have many different options to taste through their wine selections. From library tastings to food and wine pairings to cave tours, there is often A LOT to do at a wine tasting room. Don’t expect to get a full or even half full glass of wine when tasting. However, when you find something you like, take it home with you or buy a bottle or a glass to enjoy while walking around the property or enjoying a picnic on the grounds. Again… so many options.

8. Write it down. Take notes, it is easy to mix things up names, vintages, even wineries when spending a day on the wine road. There is a lot of information thrown at visitors in a short time. Take photos, especially of wine labels, making it easier to remember what you love later. Don’t forget to take photos of the scenery and the experience too… using the hashtag #SonomaChat (of course) to post on social media and to show others where you believe are the best spots to taste wine, in the photo-centric world we live in, wine is shared often.

9. Leave tips for your server is great etiquette and a sign of respect to the winery that you appreciate the trouble they have gone through to staff, decorate and create the ambience necessary for a sophisticated wine tasting room experience.

10. Don’t forget to buy wine you like. Thank me later when you open that bottle with a nice dinner and that memory retention kicks in and you find yourself back in Wine Country simply by pulling out the corkscrew.

11. If water is available, you can use it to rinse glass in between whites and reds.

12. You do not have to “drink” the wine. It is a TASTING ROOM. There are dump buckets and wineries will provide you something to discreetly spit into after you have tasted when asked. It is NOT necessary or really recommended to drink all of the wine poured into the glass. Drink what you really like… and have I mentioned…. Buy a bottle…. Do you HAVE to buy a bottle… of course not. I just like wine and have a tendency to buy more… haha.

13. A successful and FUN day along the wine road involves pre-planning. Taking off in the car and “hoping” to find some nice spots is a fool’s errand if you ask me. And I bet you agree since you are reading this, hence, enjoy planning ahead for a visit. Check our the local Tourism Bureaus, Social Media Influencers & News Articles on the region you are looking to visit. GO to websites and learn more.


14. Eat BREAKFAST!! Don’t go out on an empty stomach. Enough said.

15. Leave the kids at home, and moderate your comments at the winery. The last tip is a simple one, BE POLITE to the tasting room staff and those around you.


Be sure to read Amy Lieberfarb’s articles on LinkedIn 

To find out more about Amy, wine & Sonoma County visit her website Sip on the Juice 

About the Author

Amy Lieberfarb

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Amy Lieberfarb is the Owner of Sip On This Juice as well as the Founder of #SonomaChat, #NapaChats and is Executive Director of Readers Are Leaders. Recently named one of the Top 25 Wine Influencers for 2016 & 2017, she is currently working on her first book.

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Comments 4

  1. I like that you reminded us not to wear heavy perfumes when you’re in a wine tasting room because there’s a tendency for other visitors to smell your perfume and not the wines that they are tasting. This is a great tip for me because I’m planning to join wine vineyard tours. I love wearing perfumes, but I don’t want to be a problem to others when they’re doing their wine tours too. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for pointing out that it’s best to not wear heavy perfumes when you’re in a wine tasting event to visitors are going to smell the wine and not your scent. My sister and I are interested in attending a wine tasting event. We are both heavy perfume user, but we don’t want to distract others from checking out best wines during the event. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. You got me when you said that you should not wear heavy perfumes because other visitors may smell your perfume and not the wines. We’re interested in distillery tours because we want to buy bottles of wines for our anniversary party. We want our guests to taste the best-tasting wine in the country. Since we want to be considerate of others, we’ll do all your tips.

  4. Thank you for mentioning the perfume. I am one of those who suffers adverse reactions to perfume. I thought that wine tastings and cellar doors would be one place I would still be able to enjoy but it seems worse than ever before. I notice that even the people pouring the wine reek of it.

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