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Politely Reviewing Wine You Didn’t Prefer

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Whether you are giving your opinion on a wine during a wine tasting, at a party, online forum or even in a review app like Vivino, you should always try to be polite. There are certain situations and scenarios where you will be asked what your opinion of a wine (or of several wines). In every scenario, it is always important to follow basic etiquette and to be tactful with your feedback. 

We’ve tried to provide polite and helpful ways to provide feedback in each scenario so you don’t come off as a pompous wine snob or just plain rude. For a list of things to never say or write when providing your feedback on wine, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

Things To Remember When Providing Feedback About Wine

  1. Being polite but honest is always the best policy!
  2. Nobody is going to like every wine, everyone’s palate is different.
  3. Try to provide specifics about what you liked and didn’t like about the wine.
  4. Unless the service you received was very poor, you should never bash a wine or winemaker online.
  5. Don’t stress about letting the winemaker or winery know that you don’t like something.
  6. Try to find 1 thing you did enjoy about the wine, then mix in the poor things you did not like about it.
  7. Honest feedback can actually help the winemaker make wine in the future.
  8. That honest feedback can help the host suggest other wines that you may like better.

Wine Tastings | Dinner Parties | Writing Online Reviews | Things Not To Say

Wine Tasting Feedback

When you first start your wine reviewing journey, especially as you start to visit different wineries, you will encounter wines that you do not prefer or just straight up don’t like. It happens to everyone but it can put you in an awkward situation if you are in front of the winemaker or someone who works at the winery and they ask you about your opinion of the wine.

Providing your honest thoughts and feedback is very important during wine tastings. It allows the host to get to know your preferences on what you like and helps them suggest wines that you may like even more. Helpful feedback can also help the winemakers continue to hone their craft. What isn’t helpful is being rude with your feedback or just saying that a specific wine is terrible. 

It’s important to remember that you won’t like every wine that you try during a tasting. So it’s completely OK to say that you don’t prefer a specific wine (or several that you’ve tried). Just provide a good reason why you don’t like it if possible. The more details about what you like and don’t like that you provide could help them direct you to another of their wines you would enjoy more. Also, sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what you don’t like, especially as a beginner drinking wines. If you are struggling to provide details, try to state that you prefer something more tart, bolder, acidic, drier, fruity, etc.

The best advice I ever got was to never rule out wines due to varietal or even the winemaker – because there could be something in their portfolio that fits your fancy and you will have a wine for life!

Here are some polite ways to say you don’t like a specific wine:

-Not for my palate

-It’s good but not my favorite type of wine

-Not my speed

-We usually prefer a different type of wine

-We typically like wines with more tannins, acidity, oak, etc.

Polite Things To Say To Decline Buying Wine After A Tasting

If it’s a scenario where you feel like they’re asking you to buy their wines (and you don’t want to), a simple, “I really need to think about it/check my cellar space” is a fine response. If they keep pressing, avoid saying anything negative. Instead, tell them which wine in the lineup is most distinctive or most appealing. Or segue into a conversation about how these wines are different from the regions and grapes you are more familiar with or keen on.

Another option is to simply say “thank you so much for the wine, but this one isn’t for me, it doesn’t fit my palate”. It’s polite, and explains why you are declining. It might even open up a great conversation on what types of wine you prefer for your palate, and you could find a wine you do want to take home. A Win-Win!

We have done tastings that we did not really like. We say that it is not our typical wine style, but then we note which of the tasting we prefered over the others. My wife & I don’t like the typical Chardonnay. That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with it. It just means that we enjoy drinking different varietals.

Dinner Party Wine Feedback

If you are at a friend’s house, and the host is serving wine, it is especially important to not come off as rude, arrogant or a snob. Emotions can run high when hosts put in a lot of work to entertain a party and serve wine that they probably really enjoy. So you need to be careful not to hurt their feelings (especially over a glass of wine that they were willing to share with you).

Most often it is best to just say you liked the wine, or you can say that the specific style wasn’t your favorite but you still liked it. If you are trying multiple bottles of wine at the party, you can compare each bottle with each other, and let the hosts know which one you liked best (even if you didn’t like any of the wines served at the party). 

We aren’t suggesting you flat out lie that you liked the wine, we suggest finding the positives of the wine, rather than being negative with your feedback.

Writing Online Reviews About Wine

Whether you are reviewing a wine on Vivino, writing about your thoughts on a specific wine in a Facebook group, or in an online forum, it is still important to remain polite with your opinions. While something may not be your cup of tea, others may really enjoy it. It is important to remember that many wineries are family owned businesses, and a negative review can really hurt a business’s ability to earn money.

If the wine isn’t flawed and not your style, leaving a poor review can hurt a business and mislead someone who may love it. If you feel the need to share “it wasn’t my style.” Or “I prefer wines that are more acid driven.” As an example would be good feedback for people looking for guidance via reviews. Winemakers typically make a wine targeting a specific palate and it may not match yours.

You should follow the same etiquette as if you were at the winery when writing a review about the wine online. Try to provide the reasons why you didn’t prefer the wine. Maybe you don’t like a buttery chardonnay, so that’s why you didn’t like it. That is perfectly OK. But it isn’t helpful to say “their chardonnay is horrible”. Because other people may really like their chardonnay and you could prevent someone else from trying it before they know if they like it or not.

Feedback For Faulty Or Corked Wine

If the wine you are tasting seems faulty to you, definitely let them know immediately.You can usually tell if a wine is corked by first looking at the color of the wine, then by the taste. The color may seem cloudy or not a typical color of that specific wine. The taste will be hints of vinegar, and is typically easy to tell. Bad fragrance is another way to tell, but that can be a little more difficult. 

Read more about How To Tell If A Bottle Is Corked

Things Not To Say While Providing Feedback About Wine

  • Hogwash
  • Plonk
  • Swill
  • Bad
  • Terrible
  • Gross
  • Cheap