You have been invited to a wine tasting and are not sure what the etiquette is?
Here is my list of Do's and Don'ts that I share with all the tasters I have trained and in all circumstances.
These rules and recommendations are important to make sure that your senses are clear from any disturbance and that you won’t interfere with the other tasters’ senses. You will get what I mean as you read the following instructions.
Why? Any strong flavors, creamy texture or pungent sensations can be perceived for a long time and prevent you from smelling or tasting wine sensory attributes.
One panel member had trouble with bitterness perception. She could not detect it while the other panelists were rating the perception very intense. After checking with her, she admitted she had coffee every tasting day and the bitterness of the coffee seemed to desensitize her ability to taste bitterness in wine.
If you have a cold and a stuffy nose, don’t come.
Why? The mucus accumulated in your nasal cavities will prevent the wine aromas to reach their target: your olfactory receptors. Results, you won’t smell a thing and will be frustrated. By not coming, you won’t spread your germs either and your fellow tasters will thank you for that!
If you take medications such as antibiotics, antidepressants, or follow a hormone therapy, you may prefer not coming or may share this confidential info with the tasting organizers. Why? Sensory scientists can check whether your medications have active compounds that may interfere with your sensory abilities, usually by decreasing your sensitivity. This might not be a problem if the tasting is a one time event, however this may become a concern if the tasting is part of a series as your performance may show ups and downs.
Do not wear any perfume, cologne, or fragrant lotions. Why? While your own senses will become adapted to the scents, the other tasters will be able to smell them and will be distracted by them.
On the same vein, do not smoke before entering the room, or do not wear any clothes you had on a smoking day. Again, you won’t be bother yourself but your fellow tasters will be.
Finally, a basic instruction: be courteous and arrive on time;
Call the organizer if you cannot attend the tasting. Setting up a tasting require a lot of work (think of cleaning glasses, labeling glasses, making questionnaires...). You will be highly regarded for ..... just being polite.