By Jim & Marie Petroff
Knowing the correct wine etiquette will make your tasting experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Like most interests, there is a set of protocol that most wine lovers adhere to. Good taste sets out guidelines for tasting at wineries, and ordering wine at restaurants.
Tasting Room Etiquette
In a winery’s tasting room, white wines are generally tasted first, followed by reds, and then dessert wines. Within these categories, lighter-bodied wines precede fuller-bodied ones. Correct wine etiquette does not require that you must finish every glass. Winery tasting rooms provide jars to dispose of excess wine. Do not feel that you need to sample every wine offered. Only taste what appeals to you.
If you ask for a second tasting of a particular wine, it is in good taste to buy a bottle. Many wineries charge tasting fees which are generally applied to any purchase. It is not mandatory that you buy wine; purchase only what you desire. That being said, if you have made an appointment at a small winery, it is in good taste to make a purchase.
General Restaurant Wine Etiquette
The following tips will allow you to follow the customs of wine service with ease and confidence when you are ordering at a fine restaurant.
When choosing a wine from a restaurant’s wine list, you may want to accomplish a suitable wine pairing with the entrees of your party. If the food orders are too different to generalize with one wine, consider purchasing splits or ordering by the glass.
Waiters and sommeliers are there to answer your questions and make recommendations. Feel free to avail yourself of these services. You really just can’t go wrong with it: you are the customer.
After ordering, the waiter/sommelier will retrieve your selection, and then present it, label forward, to the host of the party. This is merely to verify it is the correct wine. The cork is removed and placed on the table. Unless it is clearly tainted, (the waiter/sommelier should notice if it is) do not touch or smell it, as it means nothing.
A small amount will then be poured for the host. Swirl the wine in the glass, smell and then taste. This is to make sure the wine is not spoiled—it is not an opportunity to send back a sound wine that you are not crazy about.
After approval, the wine will be poured clockwise to the right, ladies first. The host’s glass will be topped last.
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