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Wine Tasting Do’s & Don’ts

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12 Wine Tasting Tips

America is #1 Wine-drinking Nation

America is #1 Wine-drinking Nation

Just this year, the United States overtook France as the number one wine-consuming nation.  Congratulations my fellow Americans. I knew we had it in us! Everyone from octogenarians down to the recently legal 21 year old loves to drink wine.  But with this new title comes a bit of responsibility.  How does one go about properly tasting wine?  Here are some tried-and-true wine tasting do’s and don’ts. With these tips, you won’t look or sound like a rookie.

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting Dos & Don’ts

Wine Tasting Do’s
  • Do enjoy yourself.  Wine tasting isn’t a contest so relax and have fun with it.
  • Do eat plain crackers or wafers in-between tastings as to keep your palette refreshed.
  • Do stay hydrate.  The alcohol in wine can have a drying affect on your tongue and you want your taste buds to remain lively, not weighed down.
  • Do eat something before wine tasting so you don’t get tipsy or worse flat-out drunk.  You do not want those photos posted on Facebook.

    Many wines have spice flavors

    Many wines have spice flavors

  • Do use fruit, spice, vegetal or earthy descriptions to explain how the wine tastes.  Peach, vanilla, freshly mowed grass, or burnt wood are great everyday descriptions that should help you clearly convey your perception of the wine.  Make the descriptions relevant to your individual tastes.
  • Do think about what it is you like about a particular bottle of wine.  You can use this knowledge when selecting wines at a wine shop or restaurant.


Wine Tasting Don’ts
  • Don’t wear perfume or cologne as it will interfere with people’s ability to sniff the wine’s aromas.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t smell or taste the same aromas or flavors as someone else.  Your palette and life experiences are different so your point of reference will differ from others. If you’ve never eaten lychee then don’t say you taste it in the wine.  Be true to yourself.
  • Don’t rinse your glass out with water.  Use wine.  Ideally, use one glass for white wine and another for red.  However, if you are using only one glass and you switch back from a red wine to white to double check a previous tasting experience, then rinse our glass using the white wine you’re about to re-taste. Swirl the wine around, toss it out, then pour your new sip.

    Wine Tasting Notes

    Wine Tasting Notes

  • Don’t get overly complicated writing your tasting notes.  Make notes that are simple enough for you to go back to in a week to decide whether or not you’d like to go out and purchase a particular wine.
  • Don’t be afraid to spit.  That’s what the professionals do.  Your taste buds can get thrashed, especially after tasting several tannin-laden red wines.  Give them a break by politely turning your head away from others and spit into a cup.  Once you’ve gotten your notes committed to paper then feel free to toss any remaining wine in your glass into a discard bucket.
  • Don’t focus on price.  Just because a wine costs $100 doesn’t mean you have to like it.  The real fun is discovering a $30 bottle of wine that tastes as though it costs $100.

These wine tasting do’s & don’ts can be used whether you host your own wine tasting party or go out to a wine bar.




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  1. Krista says:

    Very informative post! I especially like the reminder that spitting is OK – sometimes people are so nervous about spitting they end up drinking way more than they planned (or should have). It’s so much easier to understand and appreciate wine at a tasting when you’re not over-indulging.

    • FineLiving says:

      Yes I agree that people feel weird about spitting and frequently the wineries don’t provide a cup to do so.

  2. Anne Louise Bannon says:

    I learned to spit during a couple Grand Tastings with 200-plus wineries attending, each pouring five or six wines each.

    Another trick my husband and I use is we share our flights, or if there’s a flight of reds and a flight of whites, we’ll each get one. We started doing that to save money, then realized we stayed standing a lot longer.

    As for not rinsing your glass with water – I get why. I totally understand why. I just can’t bear to waste good wine that way. So I shake my glass empty and set it upside down on a napkin or tasting sheet.

    • FineLiving says:

      Yes, if you are with one someone, then splitting the red/white flights is another great idea. Thanks. It took me while to get used to rinsing with new wine, then pouring it out. But it was a winemaker who introduced me to this method so if he could “waste” his own wine then I could too.