Have you ever found yourself at an event sipping on some wine, scanning the room comparing your own drinking to that of those around you, hoping you aren’t unknowingly making a fool of yourself? Trust me when I say, you are not alone! Drinking wine is different from drinking a cocktail or a beer–it comes with a certain air of elegance and, dare we say, some pomp. And while we as a culture have become less formal and more casual in our etiquette with every passing year, we think there’s still something to be said about knowing what you’re doing when it comes to wine. So, here are the basic do’s and don’ts of sipping on the good stuff!

  1. DO hold your glass by the stem. To look the part of a wine connoisseur, hold the glass between your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger on the stem, just above the base. This is important for two main reasons: first, it keeps the bowl clean and clear of any greasy fingerprints, and second, it keeps your wine at the appropriate temperature for longer. If you’re sipping from a stemless glass, still hold it toward the base.
  2. DON'T fill your glass too full. You don’t want to look like you’re hogging the whole bottle, sure, but more importantly, if your glass is too full it will change the way you experience the wine. Fill your glass between one-third and one-half full – this will give the wine room to breathe so you will experience the aromas as they are meant to be experienced! Bonus: this will give you enough room to lightly swirl your wine without spilling.
  3. DO take your time with tasting. Look at it, smell it, taste it, and think about it before fully indulging yourself. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, so enjoy the process! This is fun for you, and also gives ample opportunity for stimulating conversation about the wine.
  4. DON'T over-swirl your wine. It not only looks aggressive, it also creates opportunity for spillage and nobody wants that! A gentle swirl at the bottom of your glass will allow the aromas in your wine to volatilize and release toward your nose to enhance the taste, but it doesn’t take much! Think of it as more of a roll, less of a swirl.
  5. DO drink from the same spot on your glass. Simply put, it just looks better! Keep the lip-smudging to a minimum by drinking from the same spot, especially if you’re wearing lipstick.
  6. DO take care in how you serve wine. An experience with wine is just that: an experience! This means that from start to finish, what you do and don’t do matters. Encountering wine the way it should be encountered starts the second you open the bottle! When uncorking wine, try to do so as quietly as possible–keep wine tasting a relaxing event. And when you pour a glass for someone, be sure to hold the bottle at the base and rotate it away from you as you finish the pour to avoid dripping. And as commonsense would dictate: pour for everyone else before pouring for yourself.

Stick to these six principles and you’ll be good as gold at your next event! But keep in mind, drinking wine is meant to be FUN, so never let the pressure of a social situation steal the joy from it!