How To Rock A Wine Tasting: 10 Fab & Easy Tips

Rock A Wine Tasting red wine shot (image copyright TJ Douglas)Wine tasting events and festivals can be fun, exciting, and excellent ways to learn about and have the opportunity to taste a variety of different types of wines from different regions all across the world, all in a very short period of time.

But let’s be honest: as fun as wine tastings can be they can also be equally daunting, too. Are there *rules* to tasting? How do you maximize the experience? What do I do to avoid potentially embarrassing myself? I don’t want to feel overwhelmed or out of place. How do I get the most out of this experience without missing the best wines or ending up with a hangover?

Don’t fret, because you know your girl The Bubbleista has already got you covered! I’ve got 10 fab and easy tips to help you rock a wine tasting of any size. And since you know I don’t believe in the elitist BS that can oftentimes exist in the wine industry (hello, #diversityinwine), you can trust that this advice will be practical and focus the most on helping you actually enjoy the experience, regardless of “rules” or anything else.

Got it? Good. Now let’s get it!

Rock a Wine Tasting shot of my legs and wine

Me, in my wine tasting gear, at a red wine tasting.


My general rule is “Comfort is King, but Stylishness is Queen!” Being comfortable is a priority (you’ll likely be on your feet for a few hours) but comfort does not mean to sacrifice great style!

Comfort is the top priority (so be sure to leave any clothing you’ll be fidgeting with or tugging at all night in the closet) because when you’re comfortable you’ll be relaxed. But take it a step further and infuse some style into your outfit, because when you eel like you look good, you’ll also be confident.

A general rule of thumb is stylish or business casual–think pairing a super chic top (ladies) or a polo (guys) with jeans/slacks and a blazer; a jumpsuit with a sweater you can throw over your shoulders; and flats, wedges, sneakers, or driving loafers.

Another good tip is wearing a jacket with pockets or an across the body shoulder bag, keeping in mind that you’ll only have one hand (the other one will be holding your wine glass) and want to have somewhere to put anything you may get from the vendors (biz cards, candy, pens, informational sheets, etc).


Just as important though is what NOT to wear: Don’t wear any perfume or strong smelling lotions, body wash, etc. because it will interfere with your ability to smell which in turn negatively impacts your ability to fully taste. Perfume aromas can also affect the experience of other attendees and even the vendors who are educating guests. And it is not fun to attend a tasting where you’re getting death stares from other attendees because you wanted to “smell nice.”

Also avoid dangling sleeves and bracelets since they may accidentally dip into your wine glass or inadvertently knock something over. Which brings me to my next “don’t”–you probably don’t want to wear white. Even if you are careful and don’t think you’ll spill, you can’t control any clumsy people who might be there. Continuing a tasting when you’ve got a red wine spill on you (been there, done that) from being bumped into is a lot less fun.

For more info, I wrote a full blog post a couple of years ago on what to wear to wine festivals and the info is still timely and valuable.

Enologist evaluating red wine at wine tasting.


Many tasting will provide a tasting list (or even a booklet/brochure at large, hardcore tastings) prior to the event or when you check-in to enter the tasting. Whenever possible, explore what will be served prior to tasting so that you have an idea of what’s in store. Is it white-heavy?  Red-heavy? Will there be some wines varietals served that you’ve never heard of before?

Looking at all of the brands and varietals that will be served before you start tasting helps you plan in advance which vendor tables you’re most excited to hit up, which will maximize your enjoyment of the event.

Rock a Wine Tasting group of wines


Speaking of the tasting list and having a plan, here is a special Bubbleista-specific tip: if the tasting list has wine prices you probably want to try the most expensive wines from the jump as they WILL likely generate the most interest and be the firsts to go. You don’t want to regret missing the opportunity to taste a unique, hard-to-find, or “cult” when given the chance.

Rock a Wine Tasting sniff group shot5.) I GOT FIVE ON IT:

No need to feel pressured (after all, you’re there to enjoy yourself) but, when you can, try to employ the standard 5 “S” tasting method: “See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor’ to enhance your tasting experience.

You can actually dive more fully into the 5 S method by checking out this awesome article by Wine Enthusiast, but here’s a quick summary from it:

  • SEE: “The color, depth and intensity of a wine can offer a glimpse into its age, concentration, body and overall style.”
  • SWIRL: Swirling is integral to aerate the wine and allow oxygen to “open it up.”
  • SNIFF: “Don’t be afraid to shove your entire nose right into the glass…” to get the aromas.
  • SIP: “The swishing, swooshing and gulping ensures that the wine hits all parts of the tongue and mouth. Thus, the taster can gauge sweetness, acidity, bitterness, tannins and identify the overall mouthfeel.”
  • SAVOR: “Here, you not only look for length, but balance of fruit, acidity, tannin and texture.”

Oh, and regarding the sipping, don’t forget to rinse your glass between tasting, especially if you’re switching from white to red, or from dry to sweet. This will help you better taste the wine.

One more thing: I’d actually would add one more “S” to the mix for “spit”–see tip number 6 below.

aerial shot of wine glasses and spit bucket

Lots of wine option to sip require a bucket to pour or spit into. © Davon Hatchett


Speaking of spitting, unless it’s a wine that you just absolutely LOVE, don’t drink the entire tasting portion–either spit out what you’ve sipped into a spit bucket (here’s a primer by Wine Folly on how to do so gracefully) OR swallow what you’ve sipped and pour the rest into a bucket.

If you don’t spit or pour you will likely be intoxicated by the end of the evening drinking the entire tasting portions of 10(+) wines. Trust me, those little 1-to-2 ounce sips add up! Besides, an inebriated palate won’t be able to enjoy the wines as much because your senses are dull. On top of that, it’s just not a good look to have to be escorted from a tasting by security because you’ve imbibed too much. I’ve seen it and it ain’t pretty.

Speaking of over-imbibing, a good bit of bonus advice: (1) eat regularly during the tasting to help absorb the wine; and (2) have a designated driver or get a cab to and from the event.


Really digging a wine after you’ve tasted it? Don’t be shy–ask the winemaker or vendor about it! Listen, wine is a passion for most of these people so they will be excited that you want to learn more about who they are, how they do what they do, and the wines they make. Plus it’s fun to hear the stories behind the wine and you may just develop a connection with the winemaker, which could lead to other tasting opportunities. 

"Soooo, how many of these can I have?" (© @lotusvinewine)

“Soooo, how many of these can I have?” (© @lotusvinewine)


At the end of the evening/tasting don’t be shy about revisiting any vendors with the wines you enjoyed the most to ask for a second tasting (which you can sip with ease if you’ve been spitting/pouring!). This will help you create your list of wines you’d like to buy an add to your wine stash to enjoy at home.


(if you didn’t automatically hear the musical strums “ding, ding, ding, dingy-ding, ding” upon reading that then you and I can’t be friends) Some tastings provide you with the opportunity to purchase bottles at the end of the event but DO NOT feel pressured to buy anything. Although the event host’s goal is to expose you to something you’ll hopefully want to take home, it’s not a requirement to buy anything. If you’re strictly there to experiment and expand your palate that’s perfectly fine.

ROCK A WINE TASTING Ryan McAmis illustration wine enthu


Attending wine tasting events can sometimes feel a bit intimidating–that is, if you overthink it. Ultimately I want you to focus on creating the experience that YOU want to have: if you just want to drink white wines from Spain, do that. Interested in drinking aaallllll the reds? Sip on, sister (and brother). You only want to drink sweeter wines? Go for it.

You’re not expected to be a wine expert so don’t feel as though you have to act like one! You’re there to learn and experience just like everyone else, so ask questions (there are no dumb ones!); try wines you either wouldn’t ordinarily or have always wanted to try; and, most of all, just focus on ENJOYING yourself, my dear. After all, enjoying yourself is the whole point of your wine journey anyway.