Sip, swirl, savor.

Wine Glasses Cheers
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Stepping into a wine tasting can be intimidating. Whether you’re a curious beginner or a seasoned wine enthusiast, wine tastings are all about enjoying and exploring. 

Amy Christine, a certified Master of Wine, knows a thing or two about wine. She owns Holus Bolus Winery and The Joy Fantastic Vineyard with her husband, so she’s well-versed in this world. Here, she shares her top techniques when attending a tasting to ensure you get the most out of each sip. 

With a few expert tips under your belt, you’re all set to sip and swirl with confidence.

1. Sip Sparingly

Though it may seem counterintuitive, “The number one rule for wine tasting is to spit the wine out!” Christine says. Of course, enjoy the wine, but leaving some wine behind will let you maximize the number of pours you can taste. “It’s okay to either spit the wine out or to dump any remaining wine that you don’t want. It will not offend anyone.”

2. Avoid Clashing Senses

During a tasting, the wine deserves your full attention. That means steering clear of tastes and smells that can disrupt your wine-tasting sensory experience. 

Before you arrive at the tasting room, keep your palate clear. Avoid chewing gum, brushing your teeth, or consuming anything acidic, spicy, or minty. “I always recommend that people don’t eat while they’re wine tasting because food will change the way it tastes,” she explains. 

And, think twice about spraying any strong cologne or perfume before heading out the door: “It actually interferes with other people’s ability to smell and taste the wine.”

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3. Be Willing

Come in with an open mind and don’t be afraid to try things. Christine says “some people get bogged down with dogma,” making up their minds before even taking a sip. People who restrict themself by saying things like they only drink “natural wines” or that they hate all Chardonnays might miss out on their next favorite wine. Wine tastings are all about exploring different pours, so take advantage of the opportunity.

4. Enjoy the Environment

“We like to provide good lighting, nice glassware, and a relatively quiet, normal environment, one that’s free of any distracting smells or aromas,” Christine says about Holus Bolus.

For glassware, Christine recommends stemmed glasses to prevent warming the wine with your hand. Thin glassware gives a pleasant mouthfeel, and tulip-shaped glasses concentrate aromas towards the nose.

Bring good company, but not a crowd. Christine recommends six or fewer guests in a group because it can be tough for everyone to stay together and ask questions.

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5. Know What to Look For

Start by noting your first impression, Christine says. Remember that there’s a difference between liking a wine and acknowledging its quality—”you can have a good wine that isn’t your preference.” 

“If you want to get technical about it, you can start to pull out the individual characteristics of the wine and to try to test yourself,” she says. Focus on aromas, like fruity, earthy, or savory. Assess the wine’s acidity and body. Another tip is to pay attention to the finish—longer-lingering wine often indicates higher quality. 

“You can start to break the wine apart if you want to, or you can take it as if you’re just there for pleasure just to take it as a whole.”

6. Use What You Learn

“You’ll taste the wine. And you’ll think this is the greatest wine I’ve ever had in my life and I’m gonna remember it forever.” You won’t. 

So, take notes! Christine recommends the app Preferabli, which is good for journaling and wine recommendations. 

With your newfound wind knowledge, you’ll want to purchase accordingly. Christine likes to buy multiple bottles for different occasions. 

“Take a bottle home to drink if you want to drink it in the next couple of months, and then have a couple more safe to drink later,” she says. “You’re carrying that memory of a date that you went wine tasting with you over the course of a few years.”

Wine Glasses and Bottles

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7. Be Respectful

Be polite! Even if you don’t like a bottle, there’s no reason to be harsh. Christine also runs an Instagram account where she details all the funny stories straight from the wine-tasting room (@amys_tasting_room_diaries), sometimes showing what not to do. 

Similarly, Christine says to know your limits—don’t go overboard by overestimating how much wine you can drink. 

8. Cherish Your Memories

If you’re tasting with the winemaker and you show them some love, they will show you love back,” Christine says. “All family-owned places are grateful for everybody that comes to taste and every sale they get.” 

Spread your support and seize the opportunities. Christine recalls one of her experiences was when she called a winery in Italy, Azienda Agricola Salvioni, to set up a tasting with a winemaker for a more personal experience. Inside a tiny winery underneath a set of apartments, she and her husband bonded with the winemaker himself despite a language barrier and even ate lunch together later.

“Before we left, he just took a bottle off the wall that didn’t have a label, he grabbed a label, put some glue on it, slapped it on the bottle, signed it, and gave it to us which was one of our most prized possessions for years.” 

Getting to know the winemaker can make for some unforgettable memories.