The Simple Way To Ensure Your Wine-Tasting Experience Is A Success

Attending a wine tasting can be an intimidating affair, especially for first-timers. There are etiquette rules to follow, but don't be too put off by them. They exist to help make the wine-tasting experience as enjoyable and informative as possible. Wine Spectator, Food & Wine, and our experts here at Tasting Table have all compiled lists to help you understand the nature of wine country etiquette. The running thread between each is having fun within the existing parameters. 

Other recommendations, such as taking notes, not hogging the spittoon, wearing darker clothing — because spills happen — and tipping your server or sommelier are all helpful, simple advice for a successful wine tasting experience. But there is another common courtesy to be found in each of these lists: avoiding perfume. Beyond simply being polite to your fellow wine-tasters, there is scientific reasoning for skipping out on the scents when visiting a vineyard or restaurant.

Cabernet over Chanel

Perfume has existed nearly as long as humankind, with evidence dating back as far as the Bronze Age and Ancient Egypt, according to However, explaining exactly why you should skip out on the Dior for your wine-tasting has less to do with history and more to do with the olfactory senses.

Chapter 17 of "Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward" explains that in order for us to be able to enjoy a scent to its fullest, we need to be able to associate language with said scent (via National Library of Medicine). This is neurologically tricky, as smell is an extreme right-brain function, while language is an extreme left-brain function.

So, apart from your scent being unwelcome, it can do significant damage to that actual tasting of the wine. Smelling the wine beforehand is an extremely important element of the tasting, and masking the subtle notes of the wine with strong perfume makes the neurological connections all the more difficult. It's also just plain rude. As Basi Del Diablo says: "If you wear perfume at a wine tasting, you would be robbing a winemaker the opportunity for his or her wine to be appreciated, and robbing patrons of their own enjoyment, one that they have paid for." So skip the Chanel and opt for a cabernet instead.