How to survive a wine tasting – A simple 5 step guide

This weekend we’re heading to London for our National wine tasting, three events over two days. So with that in mind, I decided to take a look at how you survive a wine tasting.

I heart wine tastings

I go to quite a few wine tastings every year. It’s fair to say I love them. It’s not just Virgin Wines’ tastings that I go to either, my wife and I will try out our rival’s tastings as well as numerous smaller local events. I go to a few trade tasting each year too. Now, this may sound bias, but I assure you that I’m being impartial when I say this – Virgin Wines’ tastings are the best, by a mile.

Survival takes planning

When I first started going to wine tastings I was an innocent 23 year old lad. My liver was still supple and I hadn’t truly experienced the kind of adult hangovers I get now days after a few beverages. The last few years, I’ve had to adhere to a strict 5 step process to survive the rigours of taking too many “samples” of wine.

Sensible message

Before I share my 5 step guide with you it’s worth saying that spittoons are provided at wine tastings for a reason, and it’s advisable to use them. Taking 120 tasting measures of wine is the equivalent of drinking several full bottles, it will creep up on you and before you know it you’ll be very, very drunk! Trust me – I’ve been there and I’ve seen many other in that hole over the years.

Step 1 – Breakfast

Some wine tastings start at noon. Dangerous as one is likely to skip lunch in the pursuit of more sample measures. So make sure you start the day with a good breakfast. Waffles, bread, pancakes – anything with a bit of substance. Drink some tea, drink some water, get some orange juice into you. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and more so when you’re staring down the barrel of an all-day wine tasting.

Step 2 – Spitoons

Using a spittoon is seen as a bit disgusting by some. We’re conditioned by society to never spit, and here you find yourself at a bit of a middle-class event, surrounded by delicious alcohol, which you don’t want to spit because it’s so tasty….. arrrgghhh! The brain almost can’t take it. I’ve got a yummy drink that I want to introduce to my stomach, I’m surrounded by the public – and you want me to spit? Well, I’m sorry, but in my opinion tactical spitting is definitely a liver saver and a life saver. Do it.

Step 3 – The W’s

Water and wafers. There’s always plenty at a wine tasting. Taking on water and munching on a few wafers has two beneficial effects. It helps refresh and clean your palate, allowing you to taste nuances in flavour even after your 93rd tasting measure, and it keeps you hydrated and puts a little bit of food in your stomach to help absorb the never ending samples of fermented grape juice.

Step 4 – Pace yourself

There’s no need to rush. In fact taking your time, going table to table chatting to the guys involved in the production or supply of the wine definitely adds to the enjoyment. Keep your tasting measures small, use the spittoons, water and wafers provided and just relax and take the day at a slow and steady pace. I’ve seen enough people try to power their way through 100 different wines in an hour only to find themselves drunk with 3 hours left of the event.

Step 5 – Getting home

It’s best to plan your journey home in advance. No one goes to a wine tasting with the intention to get totally Brahms, but it will inevitably happen to some of you. Have a taxi booked so you don’t have to wait, make sure you’re safe on the underground, and whatever you do – even if you’ve been spitting all day – DO NOT DRIVE!


Well that’s it for my simple survival guide. I’ve written it in the hope that I get some sort of public service award, even a meeting with my local MP. I could be in one of those photos taken for the local paper where I’m being called a regional hero. I could get nominated for a regional hero award!

Erm, anyway – enjoy our MASSIVE London Wine Tasting on the 8th October, and take a look at our 2017 tastings events which are being rolled out now. Not all the tastings are present on the page at the moment, but we’ll be updating the page all year round as we agree venues and finalise dates.


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