The Wine Tasting Rules Of Etiquette

Don't hog the spittoon and more tips of the trade

Wine tasting is fun (duh). And educational (sometimes).

There's a lot to be said for tasting your way through a few dozen wines on a Saturday afternoon, and walk-around tastings are pretty easy to come by. Check your local event listings, or contact your favorite wine store or importer to find one near you.

Like any specialized event, there are rules of etiquette. Here are some tips to help you navigate the room.

① Avoid wearing perfume or cologne. You want to be nosing the wine in your glass–not your neighbor.

② Start with a fresh palate. It's smart to have a little something in your stomach before a tasting–you'll be drinking, after all. But keep the residual flavors to a minimum by opting for something a little bland and saving leftover vindaloo for later.

③ Don't rinse with water. It's not necessary to rinse your glass between wines, provided you don't switch back and forth between whites and reds. Just pour the remaining wine into the spittoon and move along.

④ Think about what you want to learn. Never been able to pinpoint the signature grassy notes in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Taste ten of them in a row and chances are it'll click. Think of it like putting a face to a name.

⑤ Wear dark colors. Even in a subdued environment, there's still a lot of wine going around. Spills happen.

⑥ Do spit. And don't hog the spittoon! There's typically only one per table, so spit and step out of the way.