Tasting Room Etiquette

The Vancouver International Wine Festival featuring Australia with a global focus on Syrah + Shiraz is currently underway with huge consumer tasting events tonight and tomorrow at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Imagine stepping into a massive room full of over 770 wines from 170 wineries across 14 different countries- its intimating especially if this is your first time at the world-famous festival.

Before you explore these world wines at the Festival, its good to understand some basic knowledge and some tips to make your experience more enjoyable.

Here’s our Tasting Room Guide to help you this year:

Before you go…

Eat something | Be sure to eat dinner. You don’t want to be tasting wine on an empty stomach. There will be some light offerings (cheese samples, bread, etc.) to enjoy at the Festival, but you will want something more substantial before.

Dress Appropriately | Be sure to wear something that is easy to move around in and is very comfortable. You will also want to wear practical shoes- you will be walking and standing all night. Also, make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting some wine stains on- this can happen. Stay away from white or light colours.

Clean | Don’t wear perfume. The smell of perfume can get in the way of actually smelling wine aromas. You don’t want it to impact the wines flavours, or affect your neighbours tasting experience.

In the Tasting Room…

Wine Glasses | When you walk into the tasting room, you will be given a wine glass. This is yours for the entire evening so don’t loose it.

Spit Buckets | Each tasting table will have large spit buckets. These have very important roles at tastings: you either spit directly into them after tasting wine, pour out the rest of your tasting if you’ve had enough, or discarding the liquid after cleaning out your glass.

Water Jugs | These are located on the tasting table and are for you to swirl in your glass to clean it out (if your going from red to white for example). However, sometimes the best way to really clean your glass out is splashing some white wine in it, swirl it around, then pour it out into the spit buckets.

How to taste wine…

Hold it by the Stem | Never hold the glass by its bowl because this adds to unnecessary smudges on the glass, which does not allow you to see the pure sight of the wine you are going to enjoy. Be sure to grab it by the stem of the glass.

Sight | Looking at your glass of wine before you taste prepares you for the taste you are about to enjoy. So, slightly tilt your wine glass up to a white paper or light and really look at what you see.

Swirl | Take the glass by its stem, and gently swirl wine around the glass. This allows oxygen into the wine releasing natural perfumes. Also, observe if there are any streaks left within the glass. This can tell you something about the body of wine.

Smell | Now its time to smell the wine, so tilt the glass up and stick your nose into it.

Sip | Finally, your ready for your first sip of wine. Let the wine cover your whole mouth to really get a chance to taste all the flavours of the wine.

Swallow or Spit | Everyone tastes wine differently. Some people will swallow everything, and some people will spit everything. It really depends what purpose you have at the wine tasting. Either way, find a good balance. You don’t want to be the one drinking every single tasting, or you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Ask Questions…

Here are some possible questions you can ask while tasting wines. Usually the winemaker, owner or senior representative is behind the table so its a good opportunity to get to know them, the winery and the wines.

  • What is your role with the winery? Get to know the person pouring the tasting.
  • What varietal (type of grape, wine) are you known for?
  • Are the grapes produced in your vineyard? Where is this located?
  • If you like a particular wine, ask where you can purchase it in Vancouver.

**Be sure to tweet us (@uncorkBC) your favourite BC Wineries and Wines at the Festival.

And most importantly, have fun!!

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