If you believe that everything happens for a Reisling, make pour decisions on the reg, and enjoy uncorking and relaxing, then you’re morally obligated to make it to the vineyards one last time this summer. You’re a wino through and through and before August turns to autumn, making another trip out to experience the wineries is legit in your best interest.
So gather up the gals and stuff your favorite wine opener in your pocket (maybe not actually, but you know what we mean). Even if you’re by no means a wine connoisseur, there’s a space for everyone at the local vineyard. Whether you’re learning about wine as a first-timer or are a vineyard frequenter, everyone has a good time while sipping rosé. It’s just in the cards.
Ready to hit the grape vines and pound down some Chardonnay? This is all of the winery etiquettes you need to know for your next girls’ trip to the vineyard.
1. Don’t smell the cork.
Chances are if you are engaging in a personal wine tasting with an intimate amount of people or you’re drinking per glass and by the bottle, you won’t even get near a cork. Still, it’s important to note that “smelling the cork” (you know, in order to understand the taste of a wine) is a total myth.
No, you can’t “taste” the wine through smelling the cork. Sadly, it will smell like a cork and you will look cray-cray holding that thing up to your nose and inhaling. Put down the cork and leave the taste-testing to your taste buds.
2. Swirl your wine.
Maybe you find people who swirl their glass of wine obnoxious (and if they’re spilling Chardonnay on you, then rightfully so.) But there’s actually a scientific reason why winos do that and chances are, at the vineyard, light swirling will be encouraged.
Swirling encourages oxygen to mingle with the wine, which is essential to wine breaking down. Many people may refer to this process as wine “opening up.” That simply means you can taste the wine growing softer, with more of its aromas flowing out.
3. Avoid wearing perfume.
Yes, body mist counts. Wearing perfume or any kind of scent to the winery could really ruin the experience for someone with a keen sense of smell. The conflicting aromas of what’s dabbed on your wrist versus the fragrance emitting from the wine could be confusing at best and at worst, divergent and incompatible.
5. Spitting and dumping is completely acceptable.
What’s usually not-so-acceptable is getting sloshed at a nice place when you’re supposed to be tastefully sampling reds, whites, and rosé. In order to stay somewhat coherent enough, spitting and dumping wine — even wine the taste of which you enjoy — is completely okay. Obviously, don’t spit it out on the table in front of you; if you do decide to spit and dump for the sake of monitoring your alcohol intake, be mindful and respectful of the way you do so.
6. Negotiating is for cars, not bottles of wine.
Sorry — there’s no haggling here. A bottle of wine is priced at what it is and there’s no getting around that. Bargaining the price down is a futile attempt and it will only come across to the employees as disrespectful and degrading.
7. You do not have to tip.
You paid as much as you did for a personal wine sampling or tour for a reason. While you shouldn’t feel obligated to leave your wine expert a tip, as it’s not necessary or encouraged, chances are it would be appreciated. That being said, if you are served additional wine not from the list, you should probably be a good patron and tip your server.
8. Swill the wine, then smell it.
While swilling the wine is integral to oxygenating it, smelling it as the next step is crucial. There’s a scientific reason for this, too: Smelling the wine preps your brain for what it is about to taste, which can actually change the way the brain processes taste.
9. Know the first pour will be light.
Don’t ask for more; it’s small for a reason. After all, it’s just a taste, not a binge drinking game.
10. Buy some wine.
I know, I know, you just want to experience a peaceful day at the vineyard sitting in Adirondack chairs painted in Hampton pastels while you down some Reisling. But you should really prepare to leave the vineyards with a wine purchase.
11. Be open to the idea of pairings.
You may be as carefree as Olivia Pope pairing her cabernet with popcorn but again, there is a scientific basis to certain wine and food pairings. Be open to it; sure, the Olivia Pope in you might want to say, “Forget this – I like what I like and I don’t care if white wine doesn’t pair with dark chocolate.” And that’s okay! But wine experts are experts for a reason and they know what they’re talking about when it comes to pairings. Be open to the process; you might learn something new!
12. Wear comfortable shoes.
Especially if a walking tour is a part of your vineyard experience, comfortable shoes are a must. If not, you’ll still be thanking yourself when you’re not teetering on five-inch heels at the end of the day.
13. Ask before snapping pics.
We all know you came here to get some hot-fire Instagram pics that will be sure to make your ex jealous but there is a photography etiquette that’s imperative at the vineyards. Always ask to take pictures first, whether you’re snapping selfies in the middle of a tasting or standing between aisles of grape vines during golden hour.
14. Keep the gum at home.
There are many places where chewing gum is acceptable — the ball park, Disney World, etc. The winery is not one of them and it will ruin your experience.
15. Yep — stash your cigarettes at home, too.
Maybe you’re one of those “only smoke when you drink” people. That’s fine when you’re at home or at the bar. But a vineyard isn’t a bar and just like you forego the gum, you should sacrifice the cigarettes as well.
16. OBVIOUSLY, get a driver.
Wineries can be an amazing time, a learning experience, and a time of bonding between girlfriends. You don’t want that to end in tragedy, so just make sure you get a driver. Safety is the number one etiquette rule when drinking.