I once wrote a story called Wine Country Casual, because people are so concerned, wanting to know the best thing to wear. We’re like that as people, aren’t we? It’s also one of my most clicked onto stories. Everyone wants to know what to wear. But, what about behavior? After we dress to fit in, what else should we consider, as we work to blend into this wine culture thing?

The Wall Street Journal maven Lettie Teague recently took this one on, because it’s a real issue.

Lettie’s Story: “A Winery Tasting-Room Guide to Sipping and Spitting.”

All of these suggestions apply, if you’re in wine country, doing wine country things.

I have a category called “Wine Etiquette,” and I’ve taken this on before, too, about 50 times on this blog. Why? There’s a culture in all that we do, which includes enjoying wine with family and friends.

I have a school across the street from where I live. I just went out to the mail box and noticed how the 400 kids over there each day, go out to play, the bell rings, and they file back into the school one-by-one. If one child misbehaves in that line, he or she is quickly pulled out of that line. In a civilized society, and even in one that’s non-civilized, there are rules and regulations.

Example: When the Pomo Indians migrated down the Pacific Coastline, they took the valley property to call home, just off the coastline, but over the Sonoma Mountains. When the Miwoks moved down the coastline, next, they took the property just off the shoreline. Everyone respected his or her own homeland. When one Native strayed into another’s property, the action of death was swift, and no fights evolved from the indiscretion.

Wine Etiquette 101

  1. Wearing women’s perfume or men’s strong after shave lotions is a no-no.
    • This is the worst thing you can do, because you throw off everyone in the room’s sensory analysis.
  2. If a sign reads, “Private Tasting Room,” if you’ve not been invited into it, don’t go there.
    • At one of my places of employment, a fellow employee, who was fed up with groups coming in anyway, let a group – that had just poured from the carafe that was a DUMP bucket – enjoy the wines that had just been swirled, sniffed, and tasted, and spit into the container, by an earlier party.
    • Of course, this wasn’t proper behavior; but it happened, because that person was so fed up with people not following the rules.
  3. Allow the server to pour his/her wine in the order of the existing menu.
    • It’s been organized in a lighter to heavier wine order.
  4. Ask a lot of questions.
    • Education should be part of your process.
    • You’re there to learn about wine, right?
  5. Spit, if you’re going to be doing a lot of wine “tasting.”
    • It’s part of the process, and will keep down your blood alcohol level.
  6. Turn off your cell phones.
    • These kinds of distractions really take away from other’s learning experiences, as well as your own.
  7. If someone asks you to simmer down, it’s for the enjoyment of everyone in the room.
    • If you and your party are there by yourselves, the server will also enjoy your delight.
    • When there are others in the room, the sound only escalates, and becomes disruptive if someone else can’t hear over the sounds. Being considerate is just part of the process.
  8. Don’t expect a full glass pour.
    • This is a wine “tasting,” remember, not wine drinking.
    • Asking for more also actually tells us that you’ve had MORE than enough.
  9. Enjoy the winery’s picnic area, but don’t bring your own wine.
    • The area needs a staff to maintain the grounds, and it’s there for you to enjoy food and wine… Their wine.
  10. Don’t EVER pour your own wine.
    • Tasting wine in a tasting room or bar is a business, not a party, although it may feel that casual.
    • This is also an indication that it’s time to shut you off.
    • Being in the wine trade is also not a reason to try to take control. It’s not your wine, even if it is your business.

For now, I think I’ve covered it all. The bottom line is remember what you’ve been taught along the way at home and in school. Just as cleanliness is next to godliness, so it courtesy.

To your health and enjoyment!