How to Wine: 5 Tips for Winning at Wine Tastings

I know that everyone has a preference when it comes to wine. Beverages of choice are such a personal thing that some people have spent years tracking down and honing in on. But what are you missing out on? It blows my mind that some people will pass on tasting a wine because it’s white and not red or vice versa. It almost boils down to economics: you either paid for the tasting or it’s free so by extension , you’re wasting time and money by not tasting everything on the table!  I like to make lists. Here’s 5 tips for getting the most out of your wine tasting experience:    1) Don’t jack with your ability to taste or smell before a tasting. That means save the cologne/perfume for after, don’t brush your teeth and use mouthwash that could dissolve rust from a power tool and wait for the ride home to hot box your car with those cowboy killer cigs. All of those things mess with your ability to accurately taste wine. I know the six people around you would probably appreciate you not trying to cover up whatever you just smoked with a gallon of Bath and Bodyworks finest Pear-Berry scent.    2) Treat it as an opportunity to learn, not as a free pre-game happy hour. Respect the tasting and the time and education of the person pouring for you. Having hosted many tasting myself, there’s a reason we don’t fill the glass up Amy Schumer style. It’s a tasting… If it’s free, that means the house is paying for you to taste that wine. If it’s a paid tasting, that means the house is REALLY paying for the wines they open and pour for you. Ask questions, listen, and pay attention. A lot of times the person pouring wine for you is not from the town you’re in and probably flew or drove in to work that tasting. That being said, It’s totally ok to ask to revisit a wine if you’re on the fence about it. But don’t ask for another shot of wine 5 times. We know what you’re up to.    3) Strike up a conversation with wine pro that’s pouring. They know more wines than the few they are pouring and can probably help you find something if you’re not digging what they are sampling. These people live wine. They study, research, and obsess over wine. They are valuable to you and want you to find something to sip on today.    4) Leave what you think you know about wine at the door and taste with an open mind. Don’t write off a Pinot Noir because you “aren’t into them.” Belle Glos is a completely different Pinot Noir than La Crema. Don’t assume any wine tastes the same because they are the same varietal. And seriously, taste all the damn wines. I get you may not like white wine but this one could be the one that changes your mind. If you hate it, pour it out. That’s why we have dump buckets on the tasting tables. Also, for the record, alcohol abuse isn’t actually something you can get in trouble for outside of college.    5) Never pass up an opportunity to taste. Whether wine is something you’re interested in or not, you are expanding your palate. Tasting more teaches you and your brain to process and differentiate flavors better. It’s not like staying in a Holiday Inn Express or anything but it gives you a better understanding of what you like and don’t like.