Wine tasting should be a relaxed, educational, and enjoyable experience. Wineries tend to strive to create a comfortable experience for all, hoping that guests will purchase their wines, become regular consumers of it, and spread the good word about their product. As with most gatherings, there are some basic rules of etiquette that will ensure the enjoyment of everyone involved. Here are some suggestions for your next Napa Valley or Sonoma wine tasting.

Plan Ahead and Reserve Your Place

Pretty much all wineries in our region now require a reservation for a wine tasting, regardless of how few guests are in your party. Before heading to Napa Valley or Sonoma wine-tasting destinations, please call ahead or make your reservations online.

Group Events

Not all wineries are able to accommodate larger groups, and those that can will often book up, so be sure to book your visit as far in advance as you can. Also, wineries are much more interested in groups that have some interest in their product than just showing up to party. Your group can demonstrate this by paying at least some polite attention while the host describes the wines before becoming social. It’s always a plus if your group purchases some, but that is certainly not required. You should check and see if tasting fees might be waived with purchase. Groups will often occupy their own space at the winery, but if this isn’t the case, please encourage your group to try not to distract from or disrupt other tastings in progress. 

Tasting Fees

Tasting fee are now pretty much universal at Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries. In many instances, this fee may be waived with wine purchase or joining that winery’s wine club. Fees vary widely, and usually cover the sampling of four to six different wines. It’s useful to check out the tasting fees and specifics before you arrive.

How to Dress for a Wine Tasting

A wine-tasting event is meant to be a mostly informal outing. Experienced visitors to any Sonoma and Napa Valley wine tasting tend to dress in a comfortable, not too-casual fashion. Since it’s not unusual to be heading outdoors for a walk through a vineyard, we advise that you not wear sandals, tall heels or open-toed shoes. Also, since the weather can turn cool quickly, consider dressing in layers or bring a jacket. Wearing white, even in summer, can leave you vulnerable to the dreaded Murray’s law of spilled red wine!

Please, No Perfumes

Wine tasting is a sensory experience. Colognes and other personal fragrances will stifle your ability to distinguish the nuanced aromas of each wine. It will also compromise the experience for those around you. 

Spitting is Allowed

We should specify that we are referring to the practice of using a winery spit receptacle so that you don’t have to actually drink all of the wine that you taste. In this regard, spitting is permissible and even encouraged at a Napa Valley or Sonoma wine tasting. This allows tasters to sample numerous wines without having to endure the effects of the alcohol (unless they want to 😁.)

Plan Your Wine Tasting Outing with Platypus Wine Tours

Well okay; this is not etiquette, so much as a shameless plug for our Napa Valley and Sonoma wine tours! It would certainly not be rude to decline, but if you use our services, we’ll definitely see to it that your wine tour day is as close to perfect as possible!