Napa Valley Wine Tasting Etiquette
What can you expect from a typical wine tasting in Napa Valley? Are there certain rules or procedures you should follow? You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy Napa Valley wine tours or wine tastings, but you can make the most of your experience if you know what to expect. We want to make sure you truly enjoy your wine tasting experience, so what follows are some guidelines to help prepare you for your visit to a Napa Valley wine tasting room.
Before Your Wine Tour and Tasting
Eat before you leave. Even though you are sipping during wine tastings, the amount of alcohol you consume will start to add up quickly.
Avoid drinking coffee and chewing gum or mints. These flavors can affect your palate and make it difficult to taste the true flavor of the wine.
Stay hydrated. Try to drink as much water as wine, if not more, throughout the day.
Avoid wearing scented lotions, perfumes, or colognes. These odors can interfere with your sense of smell and taste.
Plan your outfit well. It is best to dress in layers and wear comfortable, closed toe shoes when visiting wineries. The temperatures change drastically in the valley. Also, you will be standing and walking a good deal during the day, oftentimes through dusty fields.
Bring a cooler with you, if possible. If you plan on purchasing bottles of wine throughout the day it is a good idea to have a cooler of some sort to keep them from sitting out in a hot car.
Make appointments. Napa Valley county regulates how many visitors a winery can receive during each day and they are often required to receive guests by appointment only. To avoid rejection, call ahead to book an appointment for a wine tasting.
During Your Wine Tour and Tasting
Turn off your phone (or at least turn the ringer off). Also, if you need to take a call, step outside the wine tasting room.
Ask the staff questions. The men and women pouring are well trained and typically happy to share their wine knowledge.
Take notes. You can’t be expected to remember everything you learn during a wine tasting. Write down the wines and flavors that you liked as well as those that you didn’t.
Don’t be afraid to use the dump bucket. It is perfectly acceptable to dump wine after you have had a sufficient taste of it. You will certainly not offend the staff, and it will actually signal the pourer that you are ready for the next sample.
Spit if you want to. Like the dump bucket, it is also perfectly acceptable to spit out your wine during tasting. Perhaps you are driving, trying to limit your overall alcohol consumption for the day, or you just don’t like the taste of a particular wine. Whatever the reason, feel free to spit if necessary.
Be courteous and respectful. Treat the staff kindly. Wine purchases are always appreciated. If you receive special treatment or service, consider sending a thank you note to the owner or manager to show your appreciation. Call ahead if you will be late or need to cancel your appointment.