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Master The Public Wine Tasting Like a Boss: 7 Tips for the Vancouver International Wine Festival

  by Leeann Froese


The Wine World Is Here So says the tagline, for the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival. And given our 17 years of involvement in the wine industry, of course we are involved too! Canada’s premier wine festival runs from February 24 to March 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues across the city. The spotlight is on France as the 2014 theme country, with a global focus on Bubbly wines. The festival will feature 178 wineries from 14 countries, attracting 23,000 participants to 54 events over eight days. For full program details, visit

#withTownHall – our firm’s involvement Our Town Hall team will be attending various events throughout the festival, and we have two winery clients that are exhibiting: Haywire, and Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Both will have amazing VQA wines and bubbles you HAVE to try! We will also be onsite in the festival tasting room representing the BC Hospitality Foundation. If we see you in the room, we are happy to take you over to these tables.

Also, we have recently been doing some behind-the scenes work with Wines of France. They return as theme country for the 2014 festival, with 52 wineries representing France’s diverse wine regions: Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne, Loire, Rhône, South of France and Southwest France. All 52 wineries will be highlighted in the France Bon Appétit section of the tasting room, grouped by region, with three regional tasting stations—Alsace, Rhône and the Languedoc-Roussillon—providing guided flights and showcasing their unique wine styles.


When you read the amazing, free tasting booklet you receive when you attend the festival tasting, you will see the section on France, which our design team had the pleasure of doing the design and layout for. (Speaking of, there are numerous other printed materials, invitations, and tasting booklets that will find their way into festival goers hands at various events, all created by our design team.)

Get Your Tickets Dinners with international vine stars at some of Vancouver’s best restaurants, seminars with wine experts, access to the Acura International Festival Tasting Room and other exciting events are available. All ticket sales support VanWineFest’s charitable partner, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Tickets may be purchased online at, in person at 305-456 West Broadway, or by phoning the box office at 604-873-3311 or toll-free at 1-877-321-3121.

Behave Yourself - 7 Tips to Master the Tasting Like a Boss

With the Vancouver International Wine Festival coming up in week, there are many of you that are going to put on your finest, head on downtown, and get ready to taste as many wines as you can... well let me stop you right there! There are certain rules, how-tos, and etiquette that you should know before you encounter a wine tasting. So, let me walk you through how to taste wine, from when you arrive at the convention center all the way through until the end of the night… check out these seven tips to keep in mind so you can take on the tasting room with confidence:

1. Before You Go Make sure that you have eaten something substantial before you even head to the tasting. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly on a full stomach than an empty one, and you want to make sure that you are prepared for the tasting that lies ahead.

2. What to Wear? Anything goes when it comes to these tastings but let's just keep in mind that the room this tasting is taking place in contains 178 wineries, and is a large room to navigate. You're going to be on your feet for a while, so this is not the time to wear your Manolos; this is the time to wear something a little bit more practical a lot more comfortable on your feet.


Also keep in mind that you may be bumped into by other people or there might be some splashes that happen; this is a wine tasting event after all, so we do not recommend that you wear something very light in color or something that you're going to be super disappointed by if you get splashes of wine stain on it. We suggest darker clothing here and something that is not made in a fabric that is too precious.


3. Don't Stink! Don't wear perfume, or smoke a cigarette and go into the tasting room. Tasting wine is an olfactory and sensory experience; you want to keep things as neutral as possible. There's nothing more sensitive to a winemaker who is trying to check the aromas of his wines to make sure that they have traveled soundly all the way from France, than to have you step up to his table and overpower his nose with your stinky eau de whatever. Wear deodorant, but not stinky deodorant; you don't want to smell like BO either, because again, crowded room, lots of people…

3. One Glass, Many Wines When you enter the room you will be greeted and handed a wine glass. This is your glass to use for the entire tasting, so hang on to it; don't set it down and lose it. If you are concerned about flavours of wine mixing from one tasting into the next, each table has a convenient pitcher of water on it. which you can rinse your class out with between tastings.

5. Spit or Swallow? Now let's talk tasting. When you're approaching the winemaker or the representative from the winery they will pour a small amount of wine into your glass; this is when you are to take a step back from the table to let the person waiting patiently behind you have access to the same precious liquid. At this time you take that wine, put it in your mouth swish it around to taste it, and then spit it out into the provided spit bucket.

Spit? Did I say 'spit'? That seems like sacrilege to many, but let's just understand that you are being poured a tasting pour. (You're not going to get a full glass of wine and it's not proper etiquette to ask for more wine, because the expectation is that you're going to swish and spit out this wine like a responsible wine taster).  You might find as you taste along that some of this juice is just too delicious to spit out, so you may want to enjoy one or two samples that you actually drink, but trust me, if you start drinking every single wine you taste, you'll be blotto before you even make it through the first few tables, and that is going to ruin the experience for you, as well as everyone around you.

Also, on the note of tasting, to make sure that your palate doesn't become fatigued it's also a good idea to spit; and I would not suggest that you chew gum or breath mints during the wine tasting because they will alter the taste of the wine.

6. Offer Positive Feedback If you have an opinion on the wine that is less than positive, please keep it to yourself although if you really enjoy it please do let the winery (who is putting at least a year of effort into that bottle in front of you) know how you enjoy having them visit us from however far away they've come, and that you like tasting their wine.

7. Take the Experience Home Now we've covered spitting and how you should try not to get tipsy at the wine tasting (or ‘sloshed’, as Ali from our team likes to say), but I leave the most important tip for now: at the end of all this tasting, make sure that you have a designated driver, or transit, or cab, so you get home safely.

Lastly, as you're leaving the tasting room, make sure that you pick up something in the onsite store on the way out. Many special bottles that are not regularly available in stores are available for a limited time for the festival, right there in the tasting room. Grab something special and re-live your tasting experience again later at home.

Are you planning to attend? Come back to this post and tell us how you enjoyed your festival experience.

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