Top Ten Things Not to Do at a Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting


The inspiration for this list is attendance at some wine tasting events in my time. My wife worked as a marketing person for a winery in Northern California and was required to taste wine every week. Of course, she was a professional and would take delight in witnessing some of the events listed. Since I was well schooled by her, I never made these faux pas. (I would have died on the spot if I had.) I hope you enjoy it.

10 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not insist on special glasses to claim to have a full tasting experience. If you do, at best the rest of the gathering will take you for an idiot. At worst, the host will produce special glasses, and then you will be on the spot to render an erudite opinion. (Up to tonight your experience has been Boon’s Farm Apple Red right, Buford?)

9 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not throw back the wine as if it is a shot of tequila. If you do, at best your drink preference and sophistication will show through. At worst, you will find yourself all alone as the discussion turns to the merits of the wine. (No one cares what you think about wine and probably think your chewing tobacco will get in the way of an honest opinion anyway, Tex.)

8 If you are attending a wine tasting, don’t forget the crackers are to cleanse the palette, not a meal. If you do, at best the host will move them away from you. At worst, you might be subtly offered a place in the kitchen where the host promises a bucket of fried chicken and a six-pack of Keystone Light. (You think that offer might be not so bad until you see the look on your spouse’s face huh, Bunky?)

7 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not start describing the various flavors of the wine unless you know what you are talking about. If you do, at best you will get polite nods at your incredible ignorance. At worst someone will ask the host to send you to the store for more crackers. (You will find out coal oil is not a legitimate taste on the flavor wheel, Buster.)

6 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not try to sneak Two- Buck Chuck in a brown bag into the line-up.If you do, at best the host security system video will show your placement of the bottle. At worst, one of the wine snobs will involuntarily spew the wine on Tiny the WWF champ.(Right now Tiny is going from guest to guest demanding to know who brought the wine. You have always been a bad liar, and your turn is next right, Weenie?)

5 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not forget you are not supposed to swallow the wine. If you do, at best you will need a ride home. At worst, you will decide to inform all the guests just what you think of each personally identifying what you consider a flaw in their personality needing correction. (The next morning is going to be a beauty especially when you learn what you called your boss.)

4 If you are attending a wine tasting, it is best not to wear a white shirt. If you forget, at best you are very careful and escape embarrassment. At worst, someone asks a question and surprises you just as you raise the glass to your lips. (Maybe that shirt will make a nice car wax rag or a tie-dye coverup.)

3 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not over swirl your wine. If you do at best, your glass will be big enough to keep the wine under control. At worst, your red wine swirl will go outside the glass, and land on the white linen couch which the host just explained was made to order and arrived this afternoon. (Make no mistake you are now the proud owner of a stained couch, Cowboy.)

2 If you are attending a wine tasting, do not ask for ice for your wine. If you do, at best your host will take your wine. At worst your host will ask you to go to the convenience store to pick up a twenty-pound bag. (It is hoped that the tasting is over before you can return, Slick.)

1 If you are attending a wine tasting, try not to argue with experts about the quality of a particular wine. If you do, at best even if you are right you will look particularly brutish. At worst, one of the experts just got his graduation certificate from the anger management course mandated by the courts after being arrested for assaulting a wine steward at a restaurant for disagreeing with him on wine quality. (Looks like a knuckle sandwich is on the menu, Pal.)


  1. Why Tiny in your posts? Is he a relative? He would be very good as a wine steward I think. Also, I always wear a merlot colored shirt to wine tastings.

    1. Tiny is a reoccurring character and represents the potential violence that could occur if one of the top ten items was not followed. He is also someone who seems to generate a smile at the mention of his name. In addition to his WWF championship belt he carries a number of psychological burdens.Any one of these could be a trigger for mayhem. (Aren’t you glad you asked.) The merlot shirt is a great idea. Thanks, Phil.

      1. Yes, I am glad I asked. I do enjoy his appearances

      2. Tiny is a favorite of mine.

  2. LOL… I’m still chuckling about the fact that you managed to include Tiny. Monday wouldn’t be as marvelous without him. (I’ve never been to a wine tasting. I should print your list and keep it in my wallet just in case.) 😉
    Have a marvelous Malbec Monday. Mega hugs.

    1. Thank you, Teagan. I like the idea of a Malbec Monday. One of my favorite varietals. Have a great MLK day as well. Hugs. 🙂

      1. Stupid me… I took the car for a short drive — and no parking place when I got back. So I’ll be spending MLK day going in and out, watching for a spot to open… Darn… all I have is white wine. That will do. 😉

      2. White wife is always a good option to red. Better than none. 🙂

  3. While in college, I wished someone had told me rule number five. Great job, John! Happy Monday!

    1. College is not the place of “wine tasting’s.” It is more appropriate for “wine guzzling’s.” Thanks, Jill. Hope you have the day off. 🙂

      1. I do…and it’s been wonderful. 🙂

  4. Gwen Plano · ·

    LOL!! As a CA expat, your list brought back a lot of memories – not of me, of course. 🙂

    1. As a California (Union of Socialists Republic of N. California) expat myself I used the experiences for inspiration. Thanks, Gwen.

  5. Never knew about #5. The wine tastings I went to didn’t have that one. Unless I missed it and they never said anything. Seems like a waste of wine not to swallow it.

    1. Most wine tastings are really wine drinkings. So don’t worry. I was referring to the snooty wine snob affairs. Nothing you and I would know about. 😀

      1. Got it a d hope to never be at one. The whole snooty nose position looks bad for the beck.

      2. Ha ha ha. The image is terrific.

  6. Fortunately, I am mostly a beer guy, John. I am unlikely to run int Tiny (under these circumstances). I have been to a wine tasting. I behaved well but I contained my comments to “ooh, this is very nice” and “you have a lovely home.” Our local package store has wine tastings on Friday nights, since he also sells a lot of single cans of beer and nips, I can only imagine that Buford, Tex and Bunky are regulars.

    1. Ha ha ha. I’ll bet. I remember Rolling Rock in the nips. Thanks, Dan.

  7. I’ve never been happier I don’t drink alcohol…

    1. There you go. Just convert wine tasting words into soda tasting. 🙂

  8. @ Charles – depends on how many wines you’re tasting! 😉 If there’s only three or four and cheese around (to go with the crackers 😛 ) then you’re fairly safe to partake of the liquid vittles.
    I prefer those affairs to ‘just’ tasting. You’re quite right – it’s a horrible waste of wine and your time… 😀

    1. Thanks, Jan. I think we all agree. My wife used to do 10 or so on a Monday morning. (Better man than me McGee) 🙂

  9. Very entertaining, John! I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, so I’ve not attended any of these events. Why don’t they have chocolate chip cookie tastings? I could still eat and drive!

    1. I’m not too sure about that, John. Those cookies can addle the brain. Thanks. 😀

      1. What brain? (Too many chocolate chip cookies!)

      2. There is a cure for that. Wine.

  10. I’ve seen #8 and #2 more than once. I have a friend who always puts ice in her wine – red or white.

    1. Well, to each her own. Thanks, Teri. 🙂

  11. Very amusing, John! As a non-drinker, I never realised that there was so much involved! I would be on the ‘at worst’ side of most of those!

    1. As a non-drinker I would bet you would be as well. Thanks, Steve. So nice to have you stop by. 😀

  12. I’ve never drank much wine. I told my brother wine made me feel like my head was floating and he said I was supposed to feel like that. I think it’s best to stay a distance from Tiny. There always seems to be someone who angers him. You could be collateral damage. Funny post, John. 😀 — Suzane

    1. Tiny is a lit fuse all right. Thanks, Suzanne. 😀

  13. Great suggestions, John! I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I can see where your tips would be good for this sort of event. Love #9 and imagine your dear wife has seen one or two examples of “Tex” in her work, right?!

    1. For sure. Thanks, Debbie. 🙂

  14. Ahhhh, #5. Well,just one tiny swallow. No one will ever know. 🙂

    1. You are allowed. Thanks, Jan.

  15. 8 If you are attending a wine tasting, don’t forget the crackers are to cleanse the palette, not a meal.


    1. I know. Put those back….Now.

  16. Sign me up for #8. I never did “get” wine. I decided I liked Portuguese wines, and left it at that. Now Keystone and chicken, sign me up.

    1. Ha ha ha. Are you sure about Keystone? Porter and Chicken I can see.

      1. Porter would be a nice upgrade over Keystone, but Keystone is an upgrade over wine by my palate.

      2. There you go. I have always referred to Keystone as carbonated defrost.

  17. Sounds like a need a class taught by your wife. The Whiskey tour I went on throughout Kentucky didn’t have these rules…

    1. Naw. Whiskey people are different. 🙂

      1. I just got a set of whisky tasting glasses. Put away some Woodford Reserve to break them in. 🙂

      2. Nice. Scotch! My brother is a whiskey drinker. He drinks Bullet, which I know nothing about, but he insists it’s the best in its price range for regular drinkers.

      3. Bullit? Have to check it out. Thanks.

      4. He also sips Dalmore on a Friday night. 🙂

      5. Single Malt. Yum.

  18. I always enjoy your Top Ten Lists, John! 🙂 The Boone’s Farm comment made me chuckle. I’d probably be the woman throwing them back like shots of tequila…mostly because I love tequila.

    1. I’ve been known to slam a few tequila’s in my day as well. Thanks, Lesley.

  19. I’ve filled up on crackers on multiple occasions, usually to offset the effects of swallowing the wine

    1. Yes. Hence the lesson of number five.Thanks for stopping ,Tom and for the follow as well.

  20. I’ve been to about a half-dozen wine tastings over twenty years. No one mentioned number five. Had I known, I might–MIGHT–have brought my own ‘spittoon’. o_O I live in wine country–the amazing Niagara-on-the-lake: prize wines, wines I cannot afford, the place ice wine was born…
    So many wineries, so little time. Wait, that sounds like something a whining book lover might gasp… 😀 😀

    1. I understand the dilemma. The swallowing part was for the professionals. We all know we taste then swallow. Fools that we are.

  21. 11) Do not laugh raucously when the pretty girl next to you asks if she should spit or swallow.

    1. Or say, “What is your usual habit?”

  22. There are just too many rules at wine tastings, it irks me.

    I admit, I didn’t expect Tiny to show up at a wine tasting party. Not that he can’t show up wherever he damn well pleases though. 🙂

    A toast to you Sheriff.

    PS- Hold the ice, but double up on the fried chicken, will ya?

    1. Ha ha ha. Here you go. A big family bucket of extra crispy. 😀

  23. I never knew you weren’t supposed to swallow the wine. That explains why I can’t remember most of the wine tasting event I was given as a birthday present some year’s ago.

    1. Ha ha ha. It they don’t supply a bucket then it is no wonder. Thanks, Hugh. 😀

  24. So you’re really NOT supposed to swallow the wine? Damn, I always thought that’s what made wine tastings so much fun!

    1. I think for us civilians it is. 🙂

  25. I learned a lot and got some good laughs from this. Am actually going to a wine tasting in March, so now I feel more equipped to deal with it. All I really know is whether I like the wine, or not.

    1. If you like it, drink it. You have to remember my Top Ten lists are for humor sake. No one should try them at home.

  26. Contact sport seems a lot safer!

    1. I would say you are right. A hearty game of rugby has fewer rules. Thanks. 🙂

  27. I just don’t like the taste of wine, I can just about handle a glass of prosecco which most wine drinkers I know say tastes like fizzy pop. My friends love inviting me to tastings they get double helpings.

    1. Since I consider wine a food group I can understand your taste. I don’t like lima beans either. 😀

  28. I just started working for a wine distributor in NYC…this is all very good to know! Haha

    1. My wife was with Sebastiani Winery. She was in charge of the Vendage brand. Became #1 selling varitial. Sold to Canondagua (sp) Brands

      1. Wow that is very impressive !

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