How to Prepare for a Day of Wine Tasting

Couple wine tasting at Tertulia Cellars in Walla Walla

I go wine tasting a lot. Not just to experience what it's like for my tour guests (market research!), but because I really enjoy wine tasting. Over the years I've come up with a list of what do to--and what NOT to do--before you set out for a day of adventure, education, and just plain fun.

Skip the Perfume/Cologne and go Au Natural

Wearing perfume/cologne can significantly detract from your wine tasting experience. "Why do all of these wines smell floral? Oh wait, that's my perfume!" A lot of people can get immune to the scent of their own perfume/cologne, but for other guests in the tasting room, it can be very distracting. Save your spritz for after your wine tour--everyone will thank you.

Don’t be afraid to Ask Questions

You’re not going to embarrass yourself, and instead, you’ll probably learn something. Most tasting room staff love to talk about wine, which is why they work there. Even simple questions can act as a learning opportunity…

  • Why does this wine seem to dry out my mouth?

  • What’s the most popular wine in the Walla Walla Valley?

  • What do people mean when they talk about “the Rocks?”

And for you wine aficionados out there…instead of trying to impress the staff by telling them how much you know about wine, why don’t you ask them what their favorite wine is, and why?

Feel free to ask questions in the van too.

If there was something that the tasting room employee was explaining that you didn’t quite catch, ask for clarification once we get back into the van. After working at my family’s winery tasting room for many years, I’ve seen/heard it all. And my husband Ryan has a degree in wine, so he’s a wealth of knowledge too.

There is no silly question, if you are genuinely interested and want to learn.

Practice Spitting

Yes, I’m being serious. If you're planning a long day of wine tasting, don't be afraid to spit. That's what the spit buckets are for, and every tasting bar has one. If it's your first time spiting in public, don’t wear white! Trust me--I only made that mistake once.

The best way to gain confidence in your spitting abilities is to practice in the shower. Take a small sip of water from the shower head, swirl it around in your mouth, then try to spit it out about 2 feet in front of you. Then in your kitchen, practice spitting water into a cup. You should be proficient after a few minutes, and you may get some wine-cred from your friends the next time you're out.

Hire a Driver

Needless to say, the best way to enjoy a day of wine tasting is to get someone else to drive. Even if you're spitting, alcohol seeps into your bloodstream, and your level of intoxication can sneak up on you. Hiring a guide is also a great way to discover new wineries that you may never have found on your own. If you're looking to hire a wine tour guide in Walla Walla, I may just know a gal


Ali Rodgers, owner of The Touring Company