What to Wear Wine Tasting: 10 Tips From an Expert

What to Wear Wine Tasting: 10 Tips From an Expert

From time to time I get emails from readers asking me for tips on how to dress while visiting the wine country. With so much to do around here, it really depends on your itinerary. For most visitors, wine tasting is at the top of their list of things to do.

Even if you’re not a wine lover, spending time at wineries can be a wonderful experience. These days, most wineries have more to offer than just great wine.  Splendid architecture, beautiful gardens, unforgettable food, tempting boutiques, and breath-taking views are all fantastic reasons for spending time at wineries during a visit to Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

I don’t consider myself an expert of many things but after living in the Sonoma Valley for 15 years, working in the tasting room of a well-known winery, and visiting more wineries than I could possibly count, I feel like a bit of an authority on the subject of what to wear when wine tasting.

I’d like to share a few tips for what I like to wear when visiting wineries here in Northern California. Not visiting Napa or Sonoma Valleys anytime soon? Most of these tips would be applicable to any of the many wine regions around the world.

With style, comfort and a good time in mind, here are my 10 tips for dressing for your best ever wine tasting experience:

What to wear wine tasting

1) Feel-good Footwear:  While there are some wineries that offer seated tastings, most are conducted on your feet. Aside from lots of standing, expect a lot of walking. You may take a guided tour that leads you into a vineyard, across a gravely parking lot or navigating the perils of a soggy green lawn. Perhaps you want to picnic and play a game of bocce ball after your tour. Better to leave the spiked heels behind in favor of feel-good footwear. You can wear your sexy heels out to dinner instead. Hurting your feet, damaging your pretty shoes, and running the risk of falling are not my ideas of a fun wine tasting day. If you want some added height, wear a chunky, sturdy heel or embrace the latest sneaker chic trend and wear trainers.

wine-tasting-look

2) Layer it Up: Here in the Bay Area, we have microclimates, which means there can be great temperature differences within a short geographical distance. It’s due to our close proximity to the ocean. It can be 40 degrees, foggy and damp at 9:00 am, then by 2:00 pm it’s sunny and 80. Once the sun sets, the temperature drops again. While we do have warm evenings occasionally, it is not the norm. I always bring some sort of wrap with me when I know I will be outside at night, even in the summertime. And I often wear a tee, tank or shell as a base under a sweater or jacket if I know the weather’s expected to warm up considerably.

What to Wear Wine Tasting

3) When in Doubt, Denim: Skirts, dresses, and shorts are all acceptable to wear wine tasting but if you’re not sure, always default to denim. The wine country is a casual place. You can pretty much wear denim anywhere and no one would bat an eye. Jeans are always in style, easy to coordinate, and simple to dress up. Skip the super tight jeans that pinch and bind and wear a comfortable yet modern and flattering pair instead.

What to Wear Wine Tasting

4) Keep the Load Light: Unless you’re wine tasting with small children or you have some other reason for needing to bring lots of things with you, don’t torture yourself by carrying a giant bag around all day. It’s the last thing you’ll want to fuss with while wandering through a vineyard or wine cave or standing at the tasting bar. It will just make your shoulder tired and you’ll get annoyed trying to figure out where to put it while you taste. Often they end up on the floor. I suggest a small clutch, cross body bag or even a chic and modern fanny pack (they’re in now, did you know?)

What to Wear Wine Tasting

5) Skip the Lipstick: A wine glass slathered around the rim with goopy lipstick is not something anyone wants to see, especially if you’re the culprit. And wine pourers don’t care for it because the lipstick often won’t come off in the dishwasher. I know this because I used to be one of the people who scrubbed lip stick residue off rims. I suggest taking a break from lip sticks and heavy glosses and going for either a tinted lip balm or a long-wearing smudge-proof lip stain like this one by Jane Iredale that won’t transfer.

jane-iredale

6) Keep it Simple: Don’t wear a complicated outfit. Dealing with extra buttons, fussy straps, itchy fabrics, ties, laces and the like is not how you want to spend your day in the wine country. Wear clothes that you know are comfortable and low maintenance so you can focus on wine, wineries and fun!

what-to-wear-wine-tasting

7) Make it Dressy: Finding that sweet spot between comfort and style is not always easy. But it can be if you focus on accessories. Take that simple, unfussy outfit and amp up its dressiness with a stylish scarf, statement necklace, cool belt or fabulous pair of earrings. Play around with accessories that aren’t a burden (like clanking bracelets, high-heels or a heavy, high-maintenance handbag).

What to Wear Wine Tasting

8) Skip the Sweet Smelling Stuff : A huge part of tasting wine properly involves your sense of smell. Perfumes interfere with your ability to fully appreciate and assess a wine. Wear no fragrances when visiting wineries. Even if you aren’t tasting wine, other people are and your scent can impact their tasting experience. At the winery where I worked, we were asked to not ever wear perfumes or overly scented personal products.

No-perfume

9) Go for Fuss-Free Hair: Fog, wind, and heat are a complicated hairstyle’s worst enemies. Wear your hair in its easiest style. A stylish pony-tail or a messy beach-y hairdo with big waves are both fashion-forward and low maintenance. Don’t have an easy hairstyle? Wear a hat! Choose a Panama in the warm weather months and a fedora when it’s cold out.

wine-tasting-look2

10) Wear White with Caution: Even if you’re not tasting red wines, other people are and it can end up on your clothes without you even being aware until it’s too late. While I do take chances and wear light colored clothing sometimes, and there are products that can remove wine stains, I like to leave the light-colored clothes that I am particularly attached to at home.

What to Wear Wine Tasting

Before the Bloggers in Napa Valley trip in a few weeks, I’ll have another post on wine tasting focusing next time on the how-to’s, a few etiquette tips and more!

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Have you visited wineries?

If so, what are your tips for what to wear?

XO,

Adrienne

P.S. How I Wear My: Skirt deadline is next Monday night, the 31st of March. Please send in your photo (no smaller than 500 pix wide) with a few lines about your look to [email protected] to be featured.

 

28 Comments

  1. March 27, 2014 / 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the tips – when in doubt go denim is one of my bylaws. And I’ll surely be spilling, so no white shirts. xox

  2. March 27, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    Ah, it would be just like me to spill a gorgeous red on my white denim.. great tips! I didn’t even think about half of these!!! Love all your looks!
    Hope
    hchdesigns.blogspot.com

  3. March 27, 2014 / 4:39 pm

    What a fun post, Adrienne…love all of the tips and the pictures! I am going to share with friends who love our Texas Hill Country wine tours!

  4. March 27, 2014 / 5:12 pm

    Oh Adrienne … this is fantastic! I have been looking for this type of insider knowledge, since my last trip to Napa! I have searched pinterst many a time for this info … I will be pinning this to my Napa board ASAP. So very, very well done! I would have never even thought about the lip gloss … I can truly appreciate the idea of layering and setting everything off with accessories!

    You look so gorgeous … you are a true ambassador for your rich region! Can’t wait to see you in Napa … I am off to pin and refine my packing choices!!

    xoxo
    Tamera

  5. March 27, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    I super love all your outfits. I ‘m thinking I have to try this kind of jeans… but my ankles are too thin 🙁

    Have a nice Friday!

    Patricia
    http://style416.blogspot.com

  6. March 27, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    Perfect timing for this post, I just made plans to go wine tasting (but on the East Coast…). Thanks so much for the tips, I love the belted dress with boots 🙂

  7. March 27, 2014 / 7:41 pm

    Adrienne, Super post. I needed to read all these tips before out trip. It’s been a while since I’ve done all day tasting and you are so right about mostly standing. Also, lunch and picnics are usually outdoors and those wearing heels always look a bit silly. We are lucky to live in California where the vibe is casual and you can look relaxed, but still be chic. I agree too about the lipstick. People don’t realize how yucky gooey gloss or lipstick looks on your wine glass. Also, I so concur about the perfume!
    Like these outfits. Pretty pics of you.
    Great ideas for packing and I guess I might save my white blouse for dinner now!
    x

  8. Kathy
    March 28, 2014 / 4:56 am

    Great tips. I wouldn’t have thought of the no lipstick and no perfume, but of course those are great tips. And I agree that a small cross body bag is probably best so you don’t have to worry about even putting down a small bag, like a clutch.

    • Elizabeth
      March 12, 2016 / 7:14 am

      Heading to Napa from Jersey next week! This site was great and I just bought a small backpack style purse to be hands free

  9. March 28, 2014 / 7:25 am

    Adrienne dear, you have put together a comprehensive list here. I’ve been wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma for years and can attest to each of your tips. Layering, comfortable shoes, and color choices are key. I love your tip on a small bag. I’m such a lipstick junkie and you are so right, it’s all about the gloss to keep the rims clear. I’ll definitely keep that one in mind for our upcoming trip to Napa Valley together. I am beyond excited!! You look beautiful in these photos, by the way. I’m off to pin and share this smart and stylish list. See you soon for a little tasting!
    xx, Heather

  10. March 28, 2014 / 8:35 am

    This is such a great post! That valley ought to be paying you the big bucks for this.;)
    Beautiful photos too! I live up here in Seattle and just a 40 minute drive to the Woodinville wineries. My mom lives close to Yakima Valley where there are even more wineries!
    Oh, and I loooove everything Jane Iredale! Have a good weekend!

  11. March 28, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    Yes! We have done wineries! we stayed in the Hunter valley for a good part of our honeymoon and we did a few winery tours in horse drawn cart, which was great as we didn’t have to drive! Plus there was the added bonus of sobering up a bit before you got to the next winery. They took care of lunch at one of the wineries and it was really good fun. I have to say that we also visited a winery in Tasmania last year who made a type of scotch whiskey and a liquer.

    Hubby will drink any thing and everything, I’ve never been big on wines and these days I only try the sweet things-Botrytis dessert wines or Moscato or any ports or liquers that might be going! Funny story- I was once laughed at and told I have an immature Palate by a snobby woman at a charity luncheon in a pecan Plantation- as I didn’t want to drink the dry wines they had there and sent hubby to the bar to investigate any sweet ones for me. I just replied, “No I think I am just mature enough to know what I like and don’t like!” haha silly woman.

    • March 29, 2014 / 8:46 am

      I have no doubts you are an expert living in such a beautiful wine region. You know how much I admire your photos here and on Instagram.
      Fabulous tips indeed! I have been to vineyards in Italy and last year I visited the portwine cellars in Porto. I am looking forward to future trips and will definitely keep your list in mind. Thanks for sharing, Adrienne!

      Annette | Lady of Style

  12. March 29, 2014 / 5:40 pm

    Fabulous tips!! I’ll be sure to pack layers for our trip!! The lipstick never occurred to me, but of course it makes perfect sense. I love that Jane Iredale one. It’s the one long wearing lipstick that doesn’t dry my lips out! Comfy shoes and a chic waist pack are going in my suitcase for our trip!! Looking forward to your next post on the etiquette of wine tasting! Thanks for sharing theses tips with us. I’m so looking forward to out trip!! Enjoy your weekend!
    xoJennifer

  13. March 30, 2014 / 6:21 am

    This is a fabulous post. Really good, my friend. Great tips. Now, I want to go wine tasting.

  14. Linda Salazar
    March 30, 2014 / 10:23 am

    Adrienne,

    Boy I can see I was guilty of not adhering to some of your suggestions mentioned here when we were in Sonoma a few years ago. I know I wore heels to a few wineries, brought a big purse, and wore a light colored top at least once. And I’m never without lipstick! I will have to remember some of these great tips next time I’m wine tasting.

    Have a great weekend!

    Linda
    xo

  15. March 31, 2014 / 8:00 am

    Great post, with so many good tips and gorgeous pictures. I will keep these ideas in mind if I ever get to do a wine-tasting tour in upstate NY. XO, Jill

  16. April 2, 2014 / 10:54 pm

    Thank you for these wonderful tips! This is just perfect timing as hubby and I are off to wine tasting this weekend. I was planning to be dressy as it’s our anniversary but I think jeans and comfy shoes would be a smarter choice.

  17. Jessica Carter
    May 8, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    Heading to Sonoma for the first time this weekend….this article was SUPER helpful.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      May 9, 2015 / 7:41 am

      I’m so glad to hear! Enjoy!

  18. Barbara
    September 23, 2015 / 8:09 am

    Thanks for this! Heading to wine country for a first time visit, and was quite unsure how to dress. This is excellent advice, and some great suggestions! Cheers!

  19. Betty Stockton
    March 21, 2016 / 6:25 am

    Thanks so much for all this info. My husband and I are planning a trip to Sonoma and Napa in early May. Your pictures are very helpful. I absolutely didn’t even think about not wearing white or the lipstick or perfume. I’m looking forward to seeing your next post. Hopefully it will be before we leave in May.

  20. Kathy
    April 9, 2016 / 7:38 am

    Spot on advice! I am a resident of Sonoma County and agree your information will help any winery visitor have the most rewarding, enjoyable experience.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      April 10, 2016 / 9:24 am

      Thank you, Kathy! So lovely to hear from a fellow Sonoma County resident. Thank you for stopping by! Adrienne

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