napa valley welcome

When in Napa: Wine Etiquette Tips to Live By

Are you planning on doing some wine tasting in Napa Valley? Many visitors ask us what they can expect when visiting Napa Valley tasting rooms. After working in the hospitality industry for many years, we have a good understanding of which wineries offer the best wine tasting experiences and how to make the most of each visit. 

Below are a few etiquette tips to follow when visiting Napa wineries. 

Yes, you can dump out wine. 

Some people feel rude dumping out wine, but it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Of course, you shouldn’t talk bad about the wine because the person pouring it is probably the one who made it. That said, you’re not expected to drink wine you no longer want, such as when switching from whites to reds. If you don’t want to waste the wine, ask for it to be poured into a second glass. This way, you can come back to it if you want. 

You are not obligated to buy wine. 

Tasting rooms look like stores, but they’re a place to taste wines first. If you find something you like, you can buy a bottle of wine, but it’s not expected. Many Napa Valley wineries now charge for wine tastings, which some people prefer. This way, they don’t feel as obligated to buy something. Even if the wine tasting is free, you should only buy a bottle of wine if you want to.

Spitting is acceptable. 

Winery staff is used to spitting, so don’t be afraid to do this. Seasoned wine tasters do this to taste the wine without getting drunk. Some tasting rooms you visit will have spit buckets on the counter, while others are available by request. Bottom line: all Napa wineries have spit buckets. You just have to ask. 

Pay attention to appointments. 

Some Napa wineries will not accept walk-ins and take appointments only. You can usually find this information on the winery’s website. They’re not being rude – some tasting rooms have a restricted number of visitors they can receive as determined by their county. If you happen to see a winery on the go, call them and see if they can squeeze you in. 

Be polite and respectful. 

Wineries are not meant for you to stand around and get drunk for free. So, practice good manners. When your wine is poured, step away from the bar so that others can be served. Avoid chewing gum or drinking coffee beforehand, as this will affect your palate. Finally, stay hydrated with water, and leave a tip in the tip jar. It’s very much appreciated! 

If you have more questions about the best tasting rooms to visit and the protocol to follow, we’ll be happy to assist you. Book your room today with Napa Valley Hotel and Suites and get first class service from our boutique hotel. 

Wine Etiquette Tips, wine tasting

Napa Valley Hotel & Suites
is located in Downtown Napa, CA

853 Coombs Street
Napa, CA 94559