If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley, chances are you’re going to be visiting the valley’s fine wineries. There are certain basic rules of wine tasting etiquette you should know, beyond how to properly taste a wine.

Many people are intimidated by the thought of a wine tasting and avoid wine tasting rooms altogether. In this article, we’ll cover what to do at the tasting room before tasting a wine, and what to do when you want to taste a different wine.

At The Tasting Room

Enter a wine tasting room and expect to be greeted by a wine pourer or even by the winemaker or owner. They are there to talk about the winery, the grapes that are grown, types of wine they make and which wines are available to taste. It is improper wine tasting etiquette to ignore these details as they are part of the overall wine tasting experience.

Here you will learn how many wines are offered for tasting and what the price is to taste the wines. Wine tasting prices vary from tasting room to tasting room. Some offer several tastes and some offer just a few. Some but not all tasting rooms include a souvenir glass as part of the tasting. It is not proper wine tasting etiquette to ask for a tasting of wine for free.

Peruse the wine tasting menu before you head to the tasting counter to get an idea about the wines you’re interested in tasting. If you need an explanation about the types of wines offered, don’t hesitate to ask the greeter or staff member as you should expect them to be knowledgeable about their wines. When you know what wine you want to try, let a staff member know.

It is okay to skip any of the wines offered on the wine tasting menu. And, if you taste a wine that you do not care for, it is perfectly acceptable wine tasting etiquette not to finish that particular tasting of wine. It is not proper wine tasting etiquette to ask for bottles to be opened that are not part of the tasting menu.

One of the basics of wine tasting is to understand that the wine poured is a tasting pour. So, don’t expect to receive a full glass of wine and do not ask for more than a tasting pour as it is not proper wine tasting etiquette to do so.

After Tasting A Wine

Once your finished tasting a wine, do you ask for a new wine glass? Do you need to reyou’re your glass? Most wine tasting rooms offer water to cleanse the palate or to rinse the wine glass between tastings, especially when switching from white wines to red wines. So, you will generally keep the same glass throughout your tasting.

Experienced wine connoisseurs who taste several wines at one tasting will spit residual wine into spittoons between wine tastings to avoid overindulgence and deadening the palate.

If you can’t bring yourself to spit or you’re just a novice, make sure that you have eaten something substantial before going to a wine tasting. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly on a full stomach than an empty stomach.

As you can tell, the process is anything but intimidating. It’s straightforward and following these basic tasting etiquette tips will show you respect wineries and their staff.