This November, Niagara Falls is celebrating its rich wine country by giving travelers unique access to the region’s most impressive wineries. Every weekend, one renowned winery is inviting visitors to wine and dine with them to experience world-class food and beverage. If you love your nightly tipple and are heading North this month, you simply cannot miss this outstanding and delicious opportunity.
However, if you don’t often tour vineyards and sip the world’s best wines, then a refresher course in tasting etiquette is likely in order. Practice these simple tips while you’re still at home, and during your November Niagara vacation you’ll be as refined as everyone else.
Wear the Proper Attire
While much of Niagara is well-suited to casual outfits, wine tastings tend to be more elegant affairs. While you don’t have to don a tuxedo or a pearl necklace, your clothing should be quietly sophisticated while remaining comfortable. Think dark wash jeans, and choose a button-up shirt instead of that tank top you wear to the gym.
Take Advantage of Spitting
If you’re enjoying your wine during a paired dinner, you aren’t likely to overindulge, but if you do feel a buzz coming on, use the spittoon or spitting cup provided by the vineyard. When you become drunk, you lose the ability to distinguish the fine flavors of the wines, which discounts the purpose of the tasting. Plus, when you’re drunk, you’re more likely to become rowdy and commit obvious social faux pas, like being rude to the server or annoying fellow guests.
You should also be pacing yourself throughout the tasting, and know that you are never obligated to finish what has been poured. The goal is not to become inebriated, but to taste the world’s best wines.
Don’t Cloud Your Nose or Mouth
Your senses of smell and taste are the most important when it comes to wine tastings, so you don’t want to do anything that will impede the functions of your nose and mouth. This means you should avoid wearing strong cologne or perfume, and in the days leading up to the tasting, avoid meals with lingering flavors like garlic or onion.
Follow the Technique
There’s more to tasting wine than simply drinking it. While every sommelier tends to have his or her stylish quirks, the general method of tasting a glass of wine is the same across the board.
- Hold the glass by the stem. Whether it’s white or red, your wine is affected by the temperature of your palm and fingers on the bowl.
- Cup the glass around your nose and mouth, and inhale deeply. Many flavors of wine are experienced only through aroma, and you miss out on these subtle notes if you don’t take a whiff.
- Sip and swirl. The wine should coat every area of your mouth, including the roof, cheeks, and under the tongue; different areas of the mouth experience different textures and flavors.
As long as you are courteous, it is unlikely the winery will throw you out, but if you want to have a proper tasting experience, use the proper etiquette.