Wine Tasting Etiquette

Have you ever been at a wine tasting and been unsure of what to do? Like some wine labels, knowing the proper etiquette can be confusing! Check out our handy guide of Vine Styles approved do’s and don’ts for the next tasting you attend, whether it’s at our shop, in wine country or at a big wine festival!

Do arrive early
Arriving five to ten minutes prior to the start time is not only courteous to your host, but to all the other guests so everyone can enjoy the entire tasting!

Don’t wear perfume or cologne
You probably don’t notice your own scent, but others may and it can hinder their ability to smell and taste the wine properly. Same goes for strongly scented lotion, etc.

Do ask questions and share your feedback
Your host is passionate and eager to share – don’t be shy! Engage in conversation with us, just like in school, there are no “dumb” questions. Best of all with wine, there are no wrong answers when it comes to sharing tasting notes!

• Don’t knock it back
If you’re attending a tasting, the wines are intended to be tasted, analyzed and enjoyed not gulped back all at once.

• Do be open-minded
Leave your pre-dispositions at the door, if there is something being poured that you don’t think you like, try it anyway, you may be surprised, and if not you are always welcome to use the spit bucket!

• Don’t help yourself
This one is a big no-no, as tempting as it might be to pour yourself another splash, not only is it impolite, but it’s against some provinces liquor laws (like Alberta’s).

• Do eat beforehand
Most tastings have some type of light snacks available. We recommend eating before (and/or after) will ensure you can enjoy the entire tasting, and have the light snacks as palate cleansers and pairings.

• Don’t move your glass when wine is being poured
Shifting your glass toward your host in attempt to get more wine poured is impolite (and it won’t work!). If you just want a small taster do not move your glass away from your host mid-pour, kindly ask for a small portion instead.

• Do spit (if you want!)
It doesn’t matter why, if you want to spit (because you don’t like it, are driving, plan to taste many wines, etc) it’s encouraged! You also shouldn’t feel like you need to finish what you’re poured, dumping into the spit bucket is also welcomed.

We also suggest that you don’t wear white. This one isn’t a hard and fast “rule” but take it from someone who wore a white top and spilled red wine on it at the beginning one of Calgary’s largest industry tastings and had to walk around with the stain all afternoon! Still have questions? Any of our Vine Stylists would be happy to clear them up for you!


See original post:, October 2016.

Selena Gaudet
Selena Gaudet

Wine & Spirits Contributor Social Stylist at VineStyles