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Wine Tasting Etiquette: How to Make the Most of Your Napa Valley Experience

Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the world to attend a wine tasting. Tasting your favorite wines against a backdrop of rolling hills and vineyards makes for an elevated sensory experience, and an invaluable lesson in wine culture.

As you sip through distinctive wines, keep in mind these general guidelines to enhance your experience. No matter which St Helena wine tasting you have on your itinerary, knowing the etiquette will make your visit one to remember.

Make an appointment

Make reservations at the tasting rooms you intend to visit.

Letting a winery know that you plan to come ahead of time ensures that you will have a comfortable, personalized experience. If you’re attending a winery during peak season (August to October) it’s necessary to book ahead in order to make sure you don’t miss out on tasting your favorite wines.

Arrival and punctuality

Be mindful of your appointment by arriving on time. This is essential for the staff’s ability to give you and other guests an unhurried, relaxed exploration of their wines. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

Be respectful and professional

Tasting rooms offer a unique experience, and they often require listening, reflection, and contemplation. Be respectful to the experience of other guests’ and staff by listening attentively to staff members, and adhering to the winery guidelines.

It’s perfectly acceptable to spit out your wine when tasting a flight. This is a norm of wine tasting culture and is often done by people who want to maintain sobriety.

Other etiquette rules

Avoid wearing strong fragrances to tasting rooms, as these can interfere with the wine’s aromas and disturb other guests.

Always ask questions and engage staff, but be careful not to monopolize their time. Being mindful of the staff’s time allows them to serve everyone.

Understand tasting fees and purchases

Before you begin your tasting, be sure you understand what your tasting fee covers. Many wineries offer specific flights and sometimes include merchandise like branded glassware. Some wineries also offer discounts or waived tasting fees with certain purchases.

Make sure you understand each winery’s policy, what wines are covered in your tasting, and how to taste any others that pique your interest.

Get to a St Helena wine tasting

Now that you know the guidelines, you’re ready to experience the magic of a Napa Valley wine tasting. Make your reservations, and follow these guidelines to have the best time tasting the distinctive wines of St Helena and the Napa Valley


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