Friday, August 14, 2020

Australian Winery Etiquette and More

The natural oils from our fingers, or residue from having eaten finger foods, can leave fingerprints, so it’s best to always hold the stem of the glass. Ladies who wear lipstick can leave marks on the glass. Wetting your lips before drinking can prevent lipstick marks.

Etiquette for Your Wine Glass

Wine glasses need to be held at the base of the stem between your thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Your other fingers will naturally rest between the bowl and base.

Never hold the bowl of the wine glass as you will heat up your wine.

Small sips of wine are recommended.

The natural oils from our fingers, or residue from having eaten finger foods, can leave fingerprints, so it’s best to always hold the stem of the glass.

Ladies who wear lipstick can leave marks on the glass. Wetting your lips before drinking can prevent lipstick marks. If this is difficult, then drinking from the same stained area is advisable.

Serving Wine to Guests

You can tie a napkin around the wine bottle you are serving. This will stop the drips on the table linen or even the guests and to make sure the bottle will not slip through your hands due to condensation.

If you are the host or hostess, you will be serving your guests from their right sides. As the hostess or host, you will ensure that everyone’s glass is filled.

The rule of thumb when pouring, is to pour below half a glass (100-125ml or around 4 liquid ounces) of wine each time. At a restaurant, this should be done by your server, who will make sure that your glasses always have wine in them.

Wine Regions of Australia 

“The first grapevine planting material arrived in Australia with white settlement in 1788.” according to the Department of Primary Industries, Queensland Horticulture Institute. The process of planting, harvesting and drinking of wines has never stopped from that time forward. A report released by Wine Australia, cites that “Australia in 2018 alone produced 1.29 tonnes of wine produced 852 million litres made its way overseas, whilst 496 million litres remained for the Australian consumer. This meant that 33 million glasses of Australian wine enjoyed worldwide everyday.” Amazing facts and figures!

So where are the biggest producers of wine in Australia today?

South Australia: 

South Australia enjoys a warm climate. The region is known for: Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Shiraz

New South Wales: 

Also enjoying a warm climate, New South Wales, is known for: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Shiraz and Viognier.


Victoria, with three different climate zones is a varied climate. Victoria is known for: Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Sangiovese, Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo & Fortified Wines

Smaller Wine Producers in Australia

Western Australia:

Western Australia has a warmer climate. The region is known for: Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling.


Known for its cooler climate, it’s also known for: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling.

Winery Etiquette

A day out to a winery can be the most relaxing and relished experience that a friend, partner or work can take you to. It is a time to share, experience, saviour and talkabout. Winerys over time have become the showman, letting you graze on their wines and some have expanded to opening restaurants and featuring only their wines with local produce! Simply chic and an immersive experience.

At the Cellar Door

Here are a few pointers when stepping through the cellar door.

Before arriving understand your alcohol limit. Going to too many winerys will become a blur and your tongue will need a holiday. Perhaps eat first before trying a bevvy of drinks.

Do a good amount of research on the winerys that appeal to you. If you are only a white wine drinker then search for a recommended matching winery. If you are coming with friends then discuss your likes and dislikes and map out the winerys that everyone will be able to enjoy.

Dress appropriately with a little glam. Winery regions are located in cool climates. Recommended are flat shoes or wedges, as the winery grounds tend to be gravel, compacted soil or grass. Bigger and popular cellar doors will have paving stones or concrete. Leave perfumes and aftershaves at home, it will affect your smelling senses come wine tasting. Lathering your lips with lipstick can also affect the senses and leave lipstick marks on the glass that may not easily wash off.

Upon arriving, smile and greet the staff, they will understand straight away that you're ready to taste their products.

If there is a large crowd at the tastings, dont push in to get to the front. Go out and walk about the grounds of the winery, take selfies in the vineyard or even move onto the next winery on your map. Pushing yourself to the front will be noticed, in Australia, you may not be served.

The winery may offer free tastings or you may have to pay a small fee, that fee could be waived if you eat later at their in-house restaurant. When you are offered a tasting, go with the tasting order, (or indicate which wines you only like or really want to test). The tasting order will start with whites, rosé to reds and end with fortified wines. You may be given a sheet to mark the wines you enjoyed or didn't quite like. You can either swallow the wine or there will be a spittoon. Don't hesitate to use the spittoon, it is there for a good reason. You may want to have a tissue in readiness for you after you have spat the excess wine.

Some wineries have bookings for a detailed explanation of their wines, processes, viticulture, history and food matching. I fully recommend this type of booking. You will be attended to in a quiet corner and have access to wines that are not for general tasting. Perhaps as part of their paid booking you will receive a tasting plate of local produce that matches their wines during the wine experience.

Staff are trained to speak positively about the wines they present. Saying you simply hate reds, when they are predominantly a red wine producer, will tell them you didn't do your homework and they could skip serving you in favour of another customer.

Use the see, swirl, smell, sip and savour techniques. Look and take note of how the wine looks, its colour, its thick or thinness. Close your eyes and identify what you are smelling and tasting. Feel the wine in your mouth. Notice how it tastes when you take the first sip and how it tastes when it languishes for 30-60 seconds in your mouth. Does it appeal to you? What foods could you match it with? Think about the area the winery is in... Do you taste the sea in it? Or possibly you taste eucalyptus laden bushlands? Let the creative side of your mind wander.

Be curious, be interested. Staff want to interact with you, they want to tell you the winery's history, their best wines, the types of vines that their wine is made from, the wine process and more. It will put the server at ease and you may be offered a great deal at the end of your stay!

It is also a time to step right outside your comfort zone. Why not try different wines than you're used to? You might be delighted and surprised and come home with a new match to your chicken vindaloo, beef shank or blue vein cheese.

Using the tasting area as a local bar or pub, could be frowned upon. The tasting area is provided for trying the wines, on a short term basis. If you want to stay longer, then use their restaurant, book a private room, or take your glass to the garden or balcony area.

When you are tasting, a good server will automatically change your wine glass once you have finished the white wines before you go onto red wine, fortified or sparkling. If they don't, then ask for a change of wine glasses. Rinsing it out with water, will tend to leave a pool of water in your glass, diluting the wine your tasting.

The last place you need to be seen drunk, is at a winery. The winery has a code of conduct that allows them to refuse to serve you and even to escort you off their premises, as they see fit.

Keep in mind that the wine you enjoy is a personal choice. Not everyone likes eating escargot! The wine you like? No one else can fault your choice. Going to a winery is an experience. It is a way to escape to the country with friends, bond, talk, laugh and take lots of photos.

For many years, Etiquipedia contributor, Elizabeth Soos, has had a keen interest in cultural customs. With her European background and extensive travel, Soos developed an interest in the many forms of respect and cultural expectations in the countries she has visited. With her 20 years’ experience in customer service within private international companies based in Australia, and her lifetime interest in manners and research, she decided to branch out into the field of etiquette and deportment. Through her self-directed studies and by completing the Train-The-Trainer’s course offered by Emma Dupont’s School of Etiquette in London and by Guillaume Rue de Bernadac at Academie de Bernadac based in Paris and Shanghai, she founded Auersmont School of Etiquette.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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