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10 ‘Pour’ Behaviors to Avoid While Tasting California Wine: Don’t be The Ugly Wine Taster

You’ve seen people’s ‘pour’ behavior in California winery tasting rooms. Don’t be this person. When you become the ‘ugly wine taster’ you’ll end up with short corporate pours and pointed out the door. Behave ‘pourly’ at your own risk.

There are many paths to a wine host’s heart and many ways to build a wall between you. We’ll start with the ‘Don’ts’ and shortly post thoughts about enchanting your wine host.

10 ‘Pour’ Behaviors California Wine Hosts Witness Too Often:

1-Don’t gullet slam your wine like it’s a shot of whiskey. You don’t have to smell, sip and gargle the wine like you see in movies or culinary schools. Sample it, savor it and enjoy it. You can’t taste the wine if you slam it like a shot of Jägermeister.

2-Don’t get drunk. This is simple. If you’re out to get drunk go to a bar and order some shooters. If you want to taste wine do so with a reasonably clear head.

3-Don’t shout to your wine host, “This is our 5th winery today,” like it’s a badge of honor. They’ll know you cannot taste anything they’re going to share because your palate is overwhelmed. Refer to the rule #2 about getting drunk.

4-Don’t threaten hosts with bad Yelp or social media reviews if you don’t receive extra heavy pours. You just proved you’re drunk (or a jerk) by using threats. See rule #2.

5-Do not lean over to the people next to you and tell them how lousy the next wine in the flight will be (in your humble opinion.) Your palate is not all-encompassing nor the same as others. We might like some wine. You might like other wine. Let people make up their own mind.

6-Don’t reach behind your wine host to lift the bottle bottom during a pour so you receive a double taste. Not only do accidents occur (have you ever tried to remove red wine stain from white fabric?) but it’s just rude. If you want more wine, ask for it by saying, “May I revisit the Zinfandel you shared.”

7-If the wine host offers to tell you the back story about their winery, owner & wines don’t talk through them. Have the courtesy to listen and let them finish. Most hosts will cut to the chase and tell these stories in just over a minute or two. Then, enjoy a taste and savor their offerings.

8-Some wine regions are big white producers, some regions excel with reds. Don’t complain (or ask for a discount) if they don’t have a full flight of your preferred wine when it’s not their strength. Don’t go to Lompoc asking for full flights of Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t go to Lodi looking for a dozen Chardonnays. Know your regions and their production. Accept their white or red wines and enjoy their strengths.

9-Don’t be an F-Bomber. We hear numerous reports about folks using the F-bomb “like a normal adjective, every third word.” It’s difficult for wine hosts and guests around them to enjoy this behavior. These folks may not be prudes, but save the F-bombs for watching Tarantino films. If you want to taste the universe of wines at an estate winery, take it easy. Remember your audience. You’re not at a Raider football game and F-Bombs at an estate winery don’t enamor you to staff.

10- If you don’t like something, don’t drink it just because it’s alcoholic. If you want to get drunk, see rule #2 and shoot some Don Julio 1942 tequila at a local bar. Dump wine you do not like into the dump bucket.

The flip side of this story is, how to win your wine host’s heart so they’re pouring extra samples tucked away behind the bar? We’re compiling a list for a future story. We’ll give you a teaser here on enchanting a wine host.

1-Ask your wine host what they recommend you taste. You may not like white wine, but ask them what they’re proud of and whether or not you should taste wine you’re not best friends with. You never know what you’re going to like, nor what they’ll offer up. Let them lead your wine journey. Expand your horizons.

Go forth with grace and gratitude exploring California wines.

Thanks to Nicki, Bruce, Nicki (yes, two of them) and Ed for their thoughts about ‘pour’ tasting behavior.

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

Bill & Erin Hodge write about California Wine, the estates & winemakers producing them and educational information about Vino. Living in California Wine Country provides a front row seat to the places you want to visit the most here in the Golden State.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.