Tasting Room information

Wine Tasting Room Etiquette | Tasting Room Protocol

Everything you need to know to survive the rituals of
the tasting room.

  • As you enter the tasting room head for the tasting bar. A host will greet you and get you started with wine glasses and explain what wines are available for tasting and if there are any tasting fees.
  • Tasting rooms vary from the very elaborate to a simple table set up in the winemaking area.
  • White wines are tasted first, followed by red wines, and then dessert wines.
  • Taste each wine carefully and savor each sip. See our guide on how to taste wine.
  • Most wineries will have a sheet of tasting notes. Read the tasting notes as you taste and see if you notice any of the aromas or flavors listed in the notes.
  • It is okay to skip any of the wines on the tasting list. Some people just want to taste the reds. Some may be interested in tasting only certain varietals of wine.
  • Normally you would not ask for a second taste of one particular wine unless you indicate that you are interested in purchasing the wine.
  • You do not have to drink all the wine in your glass. Toss the unwanted wine in your glass into the dump bucket provided for this purpose.
  • If water is provided, use it to clear your palate or to rinse your glass. Rinsing the glass is a good idea when the tasting moves from whites to reds or to dessert wines.
  • Sometimes a neutral food will be provided, such as plain crackers. The purpose of the food is to clear the palate after tasting each particular wine.
  • Some tasting rooms will require that you pay a fee to taste the wine. Some wineries apply this fee to a purchase. Others might include a souvenir glass with the fee. Some tasting rooms have a two tier fee, one for the main line of wines and one for reserve wines
  • When a fee is charged, it is usually okay for two people to share one glass and pay only one tasting fee.
  • Some wineries will push their wine club. Before you sign up for a wine club, read our page on the pros and cons of joining a wineries' wine club.
  • If you are visiting a winery with friends or a group, try not to be loud or noisy. It ruins the atmosphere of the tasting room.
  • Some people feel guilty if they don’t buy at least one bottle of wine. Never feel you must purchase any wine. Buy the wine if you like it. Check our page for tips on buying wine at a winery.
  • If you choose to picnic at the winery and enjoy some wine, make sure the wine is not from another winery. If you forgot to bring wine glasses, most tasting rooms will lend you wine glasses for your picnic.
  • Bringing children to a winery can be tricky. Have a planned activity for them while you spend your time tasting.
  • Note: You may want to check our page on hosting a wine tasting party. On this page you will find wine scoring sheets and two different ways to host a wine tasting.
  • Looking for the best tasting rooms to visit? Visit our California wine country map to select a wine region to visit. We have eleven different wine areas of California.