• An "Innsider's" View of Napa Valley

How To Avoid Being ‘That Guy’ While Wine Tasting

Are you worried about being ‘That Guy’ (or gal) that everyone is pointing at while wine tasting? Are you out of your comfort zone when walking into a tasting room? Or, are you a wino and think you’re an expert on how to behave while sipping and swirling? Follow these tips to avoid some typical tasting room faux pas:

Insulting the Wine

Chances are, the tasting room staff drank better wine last weekend than you will over the course of the upcoming year. If you don’t like it, there’s nothing wrong with saying you didn’t care for it and pouring the remainder into the bucket. Even better- just dump it and move onto the next wine. It’s ok to point out your favorites, but saying a wine is horrible is akin to insulting the chef at a restaurant or insulting a song writer. People pour their lives into these wines…(get it…wink wink…pour? Oh man, I’ve become my dad).

Changing the Pour Order

There’s a reason the winery spends countless hours perfecting the order they pour their tastings in. If you want to skip a wine, that’s fine. Just cover your glass as they start to pour the other people in your party or politely say you’re still working on the last wine. Also, do not declare, “I don’t drink THAT kind of wine”. If you don’t normally drink white wine but it’s included in your tasting, give it a shot. Nothing says inexperienced wine drinker than uttering this sentence in a tasting room. A lot of the flights are broken out into a white and a red (and even further into Cabs, Pinot’s, etc) so if sparkling isn’t your bag then skip it.


Don’t listen to the hype about how tipping in a tasting room is an insult. I don’t know anyone who works in a tasting room that doesn’t appreciate a well-earned tip. Especially if they offer an extra pour, restaurant or winery advice, or go out of their way to make your visit special. Most wine tasting attendants are very personable and are happy to chat with you about the what’s what in the Napa Valley. $10 is usually good; $20 if they bust out the secret behind-the-bar wine.

Acting Drunk and Obnoxious

It happens every day. Tipsy people walk in the doors of the tasting room and you can hear a collective groan from the staff. Yes, their business is to serve you alcohol, but it’s not their job to watch while you chest bump your friends over a nice glass of wine.

Behaving as if You’re in Your Local Pub

Look people – these tasting room employees consider themselves wine educators. When you take your glass and turn your back on them in the middle of a tasting, they take it as a sign of disrespect. It’s ok to chat and visit with your friends or the other tasting room guests, but pay proper attention to what’s going on at the bar. They’re not trying to be snooty. Their job is to show you a great time and highlight their wines! Isn’t that why you walked in the door?

Acting Like A Know-It-All

We all know these people. They walk into a tasting room and think they know everything there is to know about every wine ever made on planet earth. I’ve heard the quote, ‘He who thinks he knows everything, knows nothing.’ I’m sure it was said by someone fantastically brilliant, but I’m too lazy to look it up. Good advice though.

Use the Spit Bucket

It’s ok to dump the remainder of your pour into the bucket. It is not rude or an insult to the winemaker. They want you to ‘taste’ all their wines, not end up sloshed beyond all control. I don’t care to spit out my wine, but I often see people do it and it’s totally acceptable.

If it’s Crowded, Wait Your Turn

Sometimes you walk into a tasting room and the bar is full. No problem, either wait for the staff to acknowledge you and hand you glasses or wait until a spot opens up. Elbowing your way up to the bar like a basketball power forward will only get you bad service. Also, if you notice that people are waiting behind you, grab the glasses for your party and take a step back to let them join in. If you’ve got 6 or more people in your group, it’s always a good idea to call ahead.

Expecting the VIP Treatment Everywhere You Go

Some wineries do in fact have VIP rooms for wine club members and celebrities. But, if you’re Beyonce, you’re probably not reading this blog. And, since you are reading this, then hopefully you’re not one to act like Royalty wherever you go! Its easier and more enjoyable if you just relax and have fun while tasting. If you want the VIP treatment, call ahead and pay for a private tasting for two. But be prepared to pay for it…

Tasting rooms are fun, fantastically casual places to learn everything you want to know about all things wine. Don’t spoil it for everyone by being ‘That Guy.’

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