How to Live It Up at a Wine Festival

If you want to really get to know wine and become acquainted with those who craft it, meet new wine-loving friends, and develop a solid grasp of what the French call joie de vivre, attend a wine festival. There are more wine festivals devoted to pinot noir than any other varietal, and I attend most of them each year both in California and Oregon. I can highly recommend the following celebrations:

Feb. 28 to March 1, 2014, World of Pinot Noir, Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara:

March 9, 2014, 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit, Golden Gate Club at the Presidio, San Francisco:

April 11 to 13, 2014, Pinot Paradise, Santa Cruz Mountains:

May 16 to 19, 2014, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival:

July 25 to 27, 2014, International Pinot Noir Celebration, McMinnville, Ore:

Aug. 1 to 3, 2014, West Sonoma County Vintners West of West Festival, Sebastopol:

Nov. 8, 2014, West Sonoma County Vintners West of West Festival, Anaheim:

Rules of etiquette for attending a wine festival:

  1. Don’t ask how the wine scored—ever.
  2. Don’t dump wine into the water pitcher. And, always look before you drink out of it.
  3. Don’t talk about the wine’s “legs” after you swirl the glass. They have nothing to do with wine quality.
  4. Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
  5. Don’t grab a bottle and help yourself. Wait for someone to serve, or initiate.
  6. Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
  7. Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.” This isn’t NASCAR.
  8. Don’t say “smooth.” Give this wine descriptive the day off from your vocabulary.
  9. Don’t lick your glass.
  10. Don’t wear aftershave or perfume, and go light on the lipstick. We’d all rather smell the wines’ aromas, and not see lipstick smudges on glasses.
  11. Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting the pourer. You are going to fail.
  12. Don’t proclaim you don’t like white or rosé because the pourer will make fun of you when you walk away.
  13. Do practice spitting at home. It will come in handy.
  14. Do say thanks for the pour(s).
  15. Do drink water, eat some food, and drink responsibly.

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