Wine tasting does not just consist of sipping on a glass of wine; there is an art form that comes to play with etiquette rules. Regardless of your wine-tasting expertise, knowing how to navigate a tasting room easily and respectfully will take your experience up a notch. Let’s unravel essential wine-tasting etiquette to impress and enhance your enjoyment.

Dress the Part:

While formal attire may not be needed, versatile casual clothing is perfect for wine tasting. Each tasting room may vary in level of preparation, but a variation of smart-casual clothing is appropriate. If you plan to visit multiple wineries on a wine tour or explore the vineyard, comfortable shoes are recommended. Depending on the season, dress warm or cool according to the forecast. With weather like Northern Michigan’s, dressing in layers is always a good idea when visiting a tasting room or setting out on a wine tour.

Pace Yourself:

Wine tasting is considered a marathon, not a sprint, especially during a wine tour. Sip slowly and savor each wine to get the full effect of characteristics and flavors. Some tasting rooms may provide a “dump bucket” where you can discard leftover wine; this is a great source when tasting multiple wines. In the world of wine, this is not a sign of disrespect; instead, it’s a sign of responsible tasting. 

Engage With The Pourer:

Typically, each winery’s tasting room staff has extensive knowledge of each wine, the production process, and the winery’s history. They are a fantastic tool for questions, recommendations, and casual conversation. Conversing with your pourer is also a piece of the entertainment aspect of wine tasting. While socializing is recommended, be mindful of the volume of your conversations to maintain the ambiance and comfortability of others in the tasting room.

Avoid Overwhelming Scents:

Strong scents like perfume, cologne, or lotion can interfere with the wine-tasting experience. A large part of wine tasting is embracing the aromas of each wine; this becomes difficult when other scents mask it. Opt for subtle scents or avoid them before setting out on your wine-tasting adventure. 

Hold the Glass Properly:

By cradling the wine glass bowl instead of the stem, you may inadvertently raise its temperature and diminish the overall experience. To ensure you thoroughly enjoy the wine, opt for the elegant approach – hold the glass by its stem, gently pinching it between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. Allow your remaining two fingers to rest naturally on the base of the glass, maintaining the perfect balance between grace and functionality.

While each wine-tasting experience varies according to each winery, mastering the art of wine-tasting is a great skill. Overall, the ideas behind wine-tasting etiquette are not about strict rules and clear “dos and don’ts” but rather an appreciation and respect for the wine, individual wineries, and the extensive winemaking processes. Following these guidelines will prepare you to attend a high-end wine-tasting event or relax in a casual tasting room. Put your skills to the test by planning a tour through the Petoskey Wine Region; experts and novices are welcome!