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How to Fake Your Way Through a Wine Tasting

Don't know your Brix from your brut? Use this cheat sheet to feel comfortable and confident while formally tasting wines.
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Photo: mcclanahoochie ©

Fake It Till You Make It

If you're new to the world of wine, tastings can be intimidating. They don't have to be. While you may feel out of place or unsure of yourself, take comfort in the fact that you're surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd of people who are there to teach. Here are a few tips to make your first tasting comfortable, educational and easy — even fun.

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Dress for Success

Unless you know that the tasting is a black-tie fundraiser or a casual hour in a laid-back wine shop, go for business casual attire. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne, and above (or below) all, wear comfortable shoes. You're going to be on your feet for a while, and you'll be drinking — two reasons to keep things low-heeled and broken in. Padded insoles and happy feet beat blisters and elegance, and they will lead to a happier wine-tasting experience.

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Photo: Ozgur Coskun ©

Eat Something

Have a light bite before you go, yes, but also take advantage of the food tables. While waiting, you'll meet merchants on neutral ground, and the snacks will keep your body in a healthy state for sipping. Pick proteins — hummus, cheese, meat — and fresh produce, and avoid anything too sugary. Before you return to tasting, eat something neutral, like plain crackers or water biscuits. You won't be able to taste champagne with hummus on your tongue.

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Photo: Serghei Starus ©

Map It Out

Walk around before you start sampling. Find the food and note where the restrooms are located. Scan the folks behind the wines and see who looks most inviting. You can visit the scary-looking elder statesmen after you've built up confidence. Mark labels you've always wanted to try and labels that are new to you. If you don't get to everything — and you probably won't — then you'll have tasted and talked with the wines and people that mattered most. Focus on good memories, new knowledge and no regrets.

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