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The "Dos" and "Don'ts"  Prior and During a Wine Tasting 

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.

Dos and Don'ts Before Attending the Tasting

Don't Drink any coffee or strong flavored drinks;
Don't eat any strong flavored or hot spicy foods;
and no Lipstick Ladies!

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. 

Don't Participate if you are Sick or Taking Medication

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. 

Don't wear Perfume or Cologne

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.

Do's and Don'ts during Tasting

  • Follow the tasting instructions as described on the tasting sheet or as explained by the panel leader
  • Do not chat with your fellow tasters before everyone is done...disturbance!
  • Do not disturb participants by going out and coming back while the others are still tasting
  • Switch off your phone...disturbance and distraction!
  • And again be courteous. Respect the opinions of others. As I have repeated several times, in my (sensory) world, there is no right or wrong answers. Trust your senses and share your perceptions!

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