How To Survive A Wine Tasting

Going to a wine tasting can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. Plenty of people love wine, but wine tastings cater to people who love to talk about wine. Being able to keep up with the professionals can be difficult, but we’ve got a few tips to make sure you end up enjoying yourself.

Use the Spittoons

Wine tastings can cover over 100 different wines, drinking your sample (or "measure") of each one will definitely get you drunk. “Taking 120 tasting measures of wine is the equivalent of drinking several full bottles,” says experienced wine taster, David Wyatt. Since you’re taking limited portions of each variety it can be easy to think you’re not drinking that much. Be smart, use the spitoon (the spit bucket). Some people end up a little tipsy after a wine tasting, but there’s a definite difference between tipsy and drunk.

Start Your Day Right

A lot of wine tastings begin around noon. This means a lot of tasters will skip lunch so as not to miss out on measures. If you know you’re likely to skip a meal, start your day with a big healthy breakfast. Drinking a lot of wine on an empty stomach is a recipe for drunkenness. It might even help to bring a bottle of water with you.

Sniff, Swirl, Sip, Spit

These are the four basic steps most tasters like to use. It may seem a bit silly, but you won't be the only one doing it. The first sniff will be to see if you can smell any notes of oak or cherry. When you swirl, you’re oxidizing the wine so you can smell more on the second sniff (usually hints of fruit). Finally, you can take a sip and enjoy the taste.

Have a Snack

Typically wine tastings will put out water and wafers for their guests. Take advantage of these resources. First, they’ll help you clear your palate after each measure, which can be important after you’ve been tasting for a while. Second, it will help keep you from getting drunk and mitigate any future hangovers.

Take Your Time

Events usually last for half a day and trying to push yourself and get through a lot of measures early on usually leaves you drunk with a few hours to go. At that point, you’ll be the one ridiculous drunk in a room full of sober people. Slow down and enjoy yourself. If you need to skip one or to measures that’s OK too. Take the time to talk to other people attending the event or even those involved in the wine’s production. Enjoy the atmosphere and pace yourself.

Ask Questions

If you’re a beginner, the only way to learn is by asking questions. People who run tastings are used to newcomers and are usually good at explaining the winemaking process. You won’t seem dumb by asking, you’ll seem engaged and interested in the product which is ultimately what these tastings are about anyway.

Don’t Drive Home

Not everybody will end up drunk after a wine tasting, but it can happen even to the experienced patrons. Even if you’ve spit out every measure, be on the safe side and call yourself a cab or have a friend pick you up. It often helps to plan your way home beforehand so you’re not trying to figure something out while your judgment is impaired.


Hopefully, this has helped you feel more confident about going to a wine tasting. Share your wine tasting experiences in the comments below or with us on social media!


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