Tips for an enjoyable wine tasting experience for everyone

Whether you’re going to a wine festival, wine touring visiting one tasting room to the next or meeting up with fellow wine lovers, it’s important to keep your senses sharp in order to take in as much of each wine as possible. I’ve been tasting a lot of wine at a set amount of time lately, and I’ve discovered that your senses can get overwhelmed faster than you think. Here are some tips to help you combat sensory fatigue.

Ditch the perfume.


Image source: Blue Grouse Wines Instagram. Click here to visit their IG page.

My number one piece of advice. This includes anything scented: cologne, body sprays, scented lotion and even hair products. These scents interfere with not only your wine tasting experience, but others around you too, overpowering the subtleties of the tasty liquid in the glass. Do yourself and others a favour and do not wear or apply anything on that gives off a scent.


wine spit bucket

Not your typical looking spit bucket.

It’s okay to spit the wine. Staying sober will allow you to appreciate even more wines appropriately. That is, while your senses are still sharp. After all, that’s why you’re attending the wine tasting right? To discover more tasty wines. It would be a shame to only properly discover 3 or 4 when it could’ve easily been 10 or 15!

Drink water.


Whether or not you spit, stay hydrated. Water acts as a palate cleanser, too. We all know it’s particularly important to drink water when consuming alcohol, so please always have water when wine tasting.

Taste with a full stomach.

wine and food

Meatballs, olives, grapes, cheese and crackers. Just some food to try with a ‘big red’ tasting I did with friends.

Just like not drinking water, we all know what happens when you have alcohol without food in your system. You get drunk, fast. Being hungry is never pleasant, so even if you decide to taste and spit, you want the experience to be a good one. Don’t taste wine on an empty stomach.

If you’re at a wine festival or visiting tasting rooms and they offer food, eat. If you’re getting together with other winos, make sure there’s food.

Ask questions. 

Dunham Cellars

This lovely young lady at Dunham Cellars could spit out facts about the winery and Walla Walla like she owns it.

Wherever you’re tasting wines, ask questions. Whether it’s pertaining to the wine region, terroir, wine maker, characteristics of the wine, good food pairings, or thoughts on the wine, ask questions. When wine lovers unite, you learn so much simply by asking.

Got any tips or suggestions for a great wine tasting experience? I’d love to hear some – leave a comment below.

Ordering a Bottle at a Restaurant

bottle of red wineYou’re at a fancy restaurant and you’re the one who orders the bottle of wine. As the person who takes that initiative, it’s presumed you are the one who tastes the wine first.

Have you ever felt that uncertainty with what to do when the bottle arrives?

Do you often pass the initial taste on to someone else, fearing you’ll be “revealed” — that you actually don’t know what you’re doing?

Fear no more. Why? Well, first there’s no wrong way to accept the bottle, silly. And if the wine is fine, then in the end, whatevs, right? Having said this, though, tradition has been in place for years for good reason and I’ll explain why below. Follow these five steps and in not too long, you’ll look like a wine connoisseur.

Step 1 – Look then nod.

When the bottle arrives at your table and you’re presented with the it, don’t nod right away. I know many of us do that without even really looking at the bottle. Now imagine, what if you nod at the bottle and it happens to cost twice as much as the one you actually ordered? Hell no, don’t want that to happen! So, look, really look and then nod only if the server brought the right bottle.

Step 2 – Take a quick sniff.

This is a preliminary sniff and you’ll catch anything “off” immediately. It’s a quick way to eliminate the next step if the wine in that bottle is bad. Don’t be afraid to put your nose in the glass.

Step 3 – Tilt the glass then look.

After you smile and nod, (it’s always nice to smile) indicating that the wine is what you ordered, the server then opens the bottle and pours a little out for you to taste. Most people will just take a sip and nod again, which is perfectly fine if you like what you taste! BUT, if you want to look like you know a thing or two… Hold the glass by the stem and tilt it in the light or candle. Are there sediments? Unless you’re ordering an expensive bottle, there usually isn’t. Does anything look peculiar to you? Hopefully not.

Step 4 – Swirl and take a good sniff.

The easiest way to swirl is to have your glass on the table, hold it by the stem with your fingers and swirl. The act of swirling the wine in the bowl of the glass releases the fragrances of the wine and you can often smell what you’re going to taste.

A rookie mistake is to hold the bowl of the wine glass. Your hands emit heat which effects the aroma and taste of a wine. It’s the same science that explains why chilled red wine isn’t as pronounced.

Step 5 – Sip, swoosh, swallow.

Now the fun part! Make sure you let in some air after your sip and move the wine around in your mouth. You will almost all the time taste what you smell. If the wine is good, nod, smile and give the go ahead to your server to share it with your companion(s)!


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