Make the most of your cellar door visits »

Tips and advice from VisitVineyards.com subscribers

Contributed articles and stories

Wine tasting at Boyntons Feathertop winery
Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps cellar door, Healesville, Victoria
Wine tasting at Mulyan Wines cellar door, Cowra, NSW


Visiting cellar doors can sometimes feel a bit like a rotation of walking in, tasting, buying (optional), driving, walking in, tasting etc etc. Other times it can be a great experience when the staff are amazing, you meet the winemaker and walk away with new found knowledge (and a few bottles tucked away no doubt).

How can you turn all your cellar door encounters into these?

In our last VisitVineyards.com subscriber survey, many of you offered some wise advice on wine touring and tasting including these tips on how to make the most of your cellar door visits. A common theme is to ask questions and show interest in the wine you are tasting and also some hints on good manners!

Thank you to all those who contributed, including Anon who has certainly done some wine travelling! 

If you have any tips or hints you'd like to share, email us at feedback@VisitVineyards.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page from the link below.


Mind your manners please!

Be appreciative of the wine that you are sampling and listen to the winemaker. Anon.

Be up front on what you like and prefer to taste. Maintain respect for the host regardless of whether you intend to purchase. Buy little and try at home rather than buy a lot at first, as wine tasting days can distort taste by the end of the day. John I of Hallam,Vic.

I always try to buy at least one bottle at every cellar door I visit even if only to ensure they might be there next time I visit. It's a tough business. Anon.

If you spend time tasting at a cellar door, do buy something, otherwise it's not the vineyard/salesperson that's rude... It's you! Emma P, of Geilston Bay, Tas.

Remember always to be courteous when visiting wineries especially when tasting. Don't stay all day, there are others who would like the experience you have just enjoyed.  Most wineries don't appreciate people arriving just as they are about to close their doors. Arrive in plenty of time to savour! I was totally amazed at how much knowledge the people at the cellar door, and wine tasting staff have of their product. They are  encyclopaedic in their knowledge, often learned by many years spent making their wines. Margaret W, of Peregian Springs, Qld.

Try NOT to drink the whole sample! Anon

Don't judge a book by the cover, sometimes the small inconspicuous cellar doors offer the best experience! Do not say to the cellar door staff that you think a wine is bad - it's just not to your liking! Amanda K, of Hillarys, WA. 

Support your hosts as often as you can. If you are warmly welcomed, maybe learn something new and generally enjoy your time at a cellar door – grab a bottle or two. Take your trip prepared to do this and everyone will benefit! Tiffiny H, of Cabarita, NSW.

What about spitting?

You have to learn to spit the wine out at tastings! Anon,

If you plan to spit, do it forcefully to prevent dribbles! Mike V, of Ashfield, WA.

Don't be intimidated or embarrassed about using cellar door spittoons. If you're driving, try the wines anyway. Just make sure you spit. Ed M, of Kew, Vic.


Ask away

Be friendly and ask lots of questions to show an interest. Often this leads to better experiences e.g. the opportunity to taste different wine not available to everyone. Anon.

Don't feel intimidated by other visitors who appear to know more about wine than you do.  Ask questions of cellar door staff about jargon in the tasting notes that you don't understand. Ask the cellar door staff about the wines and how they are made. Anon.

Talk to the wine makers, ask questions. Anon.

Ask questions, staff are generally friendly and willing to share their knowledge. Tony S, of Bilgola, NSW.

Lisbeth L, of Wangaratta, Vic has some great advice:
Don't be afraid to ask questions, it's a fantastic way to learn and it helps everyone involved to engage. Find out the wine/food personal story and the people behind it.  When eating out in a wine region, ask for recommendations on the local wine that might match your meal  If you have enjoyed a good wine, make the effort to find the cellar door. There are so many good wines not available any where else but cellar door.  Find out the story, make it a great adventure!

Don't be shy to ask lots of questions. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the wine - I've learned that staff at cellar doors LOVE to give you lots of information about wine and their products. Even after lots (and lots) of tastings, I still find I'm learning so much by asking questions at the cellar door. Jo W, of Reid, ACT.


Try something new/different

Taste wines at cellar doors with an open mind. Try grape varieties you don't normally like and see what surprises may be in store. I recently found a rosé that I like by doing this after years of trying and not liking rosé! The same thing happened with chardonnay. Phyllis S, of Mt Martha, Vic.

Don't be shy to try the variety of wines you wouldn't normally drink, you may be surprised! Tania B, of Lake Grace, WA.

If you are visiting a cellar door try everything, you never know you may like something different. Pauline G, of Hampton, Vic.

Encourage wine tasters at cellar doors to try something new rather than just their favourite varieties/styles. Anon (winemaker)


Make notes for later

Always ask for a printed list of wines (or the mail order form is often useful), to note which wines you really liked. Michael H, of Lenah Valley, Tas.

Keep a note of what you've tasted and where – at the end of a long day's wine tasting, you may have forgotten which your favourites were. Anon

Make notes as you go along as to what you like – we usually use a tick for yes, cross for no and multiple ticks if we really like it. Anon.

It was suggested that I take photos on my iPhone of wine labels that I enjoyed.  I still haven't done it, but it's a brilliant idea. Kacy M, of Northcote, Vic.

When tasting at the cellar door ask for an order form to write your scores on. Use you scores to guide you in your purchases and keep it as a record of your opinions and of what you bought.  Keep a wine diary of what you drink and a brief description of the meal. My wife and I score out of ten.   Keep it simple. Anon.

Ensure you take a note pad and pen so that you can record name of wines that you like because not all cellar doors offer this and also make sure you speak up and ask if they have an online order system and free or reasonable delivery charges especially if you come from regional Australia as you can only carry so much in hand luggage on a plane. Leanne V, of Innisfail, Qld.

When visiting cellar door use the tasting list to jot down notes (whatever suits you, 1,2, 3 stars etc.) and taste everything, starting with the whites and then the reds. It focuses the mind and helps later on in recalling the wines tasted and your preferences. Mahmoud A, of Sydney, NSW.

Limit the wineries you visit in one day to no more than 5 with breaks in between. Make notes that YOU will understand as you taste. If you are in an area for a few days don't rush into buying at first tasting. Revisit your notes, re-taste those you liked and purchase if your second tasting confirms your initial thoughts. Never buy just one bottle – you will regret it when it has gone and there is not another to share. Anon.

Download the VisitVineyards.com wine tasting template to take with you »


General tips

Buy what you like the taste of, not just what's the top recommended. Lara H, of Wooloowin, Qld.

It's meant to be enjoyed so have fun with it and share the experience with others. Be open to try new wines!! Eileena M, of Port Noarlunga, SA

If there are buses at the winery outlet when you arrive, move on to another and come back later, otherwise the better wines will not be brought out. John M, of Leopold, Vic

Join the mailing list of cellar doors you enjoyed to be kept up to date with new releases and events. Clementine M, of Geelong West, Vic

If you enjoy a wine, keep enjoying it even if someone comments negatively about it – we all have different taste preferences and it's an individual thing. Marilyn T, of Oak Flats, NSW

Nothing is better than grabbing a wine out of your cellar that you brought directly from the cellar door! It floods you with great memories about your trip and if you've cellared it for a while will most likely taste even better than when you brought it! Necole R, of Richmond, Vic.

Never taste wine with cheese. It will give a coating in the mouth that makes all bad wine taste better. Conversly, tasting with apple will highlight faults easier. Anon.

I was once told by a very eminent wine judge that the best way to establish whether the wine selected was right for you..........just smell it, it certainly impresses people!!!! Greg R, of Seven Hills, NSW,

Have your wine tasting prior to lunch, then you can select a perfect wine to compliment your lunch. Pauline M of Hastings, Vic.

If you have trouble remembering what you tasted, try only one or two varieties at each vineyard. It is easier to judge which you like best. Anon.


Read more tips on planning and prearation for your wine touring » 

And here's some subscriber advice on wine tasting in general »

Download the VisitVineyards.com wine tasting template to take with you »

February 14th, 2015
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