A Few Words On Wine-tasting Etiquette

It has been some time since I wrote about wine tasting or wine dinner etiquette, so this is a good time for a refresher. Some of these might be blatantly obvious, others may not.

When we all get together to enjoy some food and wine, here are some tips so that we all can enjoy it even more:


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Opulent and classy

1) Do not wear any strong cologne, aftershave, perfume, lotions or oils. We want to be sure to smell and taste the wine, not the fragrance of the day you just put on. I can tell you from experience just how badly this can spoil the experience. I also would add that if you are hosting a wine tasting, candles are very pretty and can add to the mood and decor, but they also can be scented. Please make sure that if you do use candles that they do not interfere with the aroma of the wine, and light them before any of the wine is opened.

2) When in line for a wine tasting, please step up to the pourer, and once you have the wine, please be considerate and move to the side. Even if you want to speak to the person pouring the wine if he or she is the producer or owner, you can still do that without impeding the flow of the wine and/or line.

3) (I preface this with the caveat that I do not encourage inebriation or condone driving under the influence.) At wine dinners it is OK to share your wine. I have been to many wine dinners where some guests do not finish all the wine that is served to them. In many of those cases, there is someone who would like to have more wine. As long as this is done responsibly and no one is driving under the influence, it’s OK to pour the wine you don’t finish into your neighbor’s glass. After all, I am a conservationist.

4) Do get to know the level of wines at the dinner or party you are going to. This is not only a show of respect for the people bringing wine, but helps you avoid any embarrassment as well. You definitely do not want to bring a knife to a gunfight. So if you cannot afford to bring the same level of wine, bring something else. There is always a favorite dessert or cigars that would be a much-welcomed addition to the party.

5) When there are more people than there are ounces in a bottle of wine (a 750ml bottle contains 25.35 ounces), please make sure that you pour yourself no more than your fair share. I have to glare at the person whom I see pouring themselves a full glass when there are people who haven’t yet tasted the wine. Please don’t make yourself look like a selfish beast. Wine is best shared.

Recommendations: 2011 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Clos de la Moussiere ($26) Classic is the word. Its purity or fruit, minerality and elegance are simply a joy to drink. Opulent and classy. 2011 Cypher Grenache Blanc ($19) Yes, Grenache white. This wine has a totally exotic nose with tropical fruit notes and it hits your palate with the weight of Chardonnay but more juicy tropical fruit and citrus. A really, really fun wine.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. Email rviernes@southernwine.co m or follow him on Twitter @Pinotpusher.