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How Not to Sound Like a D-Bag While Wine Tasting

Unfiltered advice from the pourers themselves.

As Calvin Trillin pointed out on Slate last year, “among people who think of themselves as wine connoisseurs there’s a 61 percent ACI [Asshole Correlation Index].” Which means that over half of vino sippers out there are leaving a bad taste in everyone else’s mouth. How do you avoid becoming one of these ACI sufferers? We talked (anonymously) to some current and former Napa Valley tasting room attendants about how not to act on your next vineyard visit.

Don’t say: “I don’t drink (insert color or varietal here).”
Do say: “I’m not normally a big (insert color or varietal here) fan but I’ll give this one a try.” There are somewhere in the ballpark of 1,300 varieties of grapes, which means a lot of different kinds of wine. That means that if you don’t drink red, you are missing out on a whole lot of wine. Since it is a “tasting,” be a good sport and just taste the dang wine. Do some research too: "If you're absolutely against Cabernet Sauvignon," says one winery insider, "maybe reconsider going to Napa Valley." 

Don’t say: “Aw c’mon, that’s all I’m getting! You can give me more, I won’t tell.” 
Do say: “I really enjoyed that last one, would it be alright if I had another little taste?” One tasting room employee said to “call it a ‘revisit.' Most wineries aren’t against revisiting a wine—especially the smaller wineries who would rather connect with you then run the cattle call.”

Don’t say: “Spit? I don’t want to waste it!“ 
Do say: "Pass the spitoon." Those buckets are there for a reason. “If you have a whole day lined up of visiting wineries, it might be a wise decision to spit or dump,” our insider tells us. Anyhow, who wants to wind up passed out on a bench at Domaine Carneros?

Don’t say: “I don’t like any of these.” 
Do say: Nothing. Just quietly pour the wine out. Everyone experiences taste differently and winemakers know that. “Sometimes [the owner] is the one pouring. He knows he can’t please everyone," our source says. But be considerate of the fact that someone made that wine, and that that someone is likely within earshot of your proclamation.

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Follow Katherine Guzman on Twitter @kvguzman