The most important wine bar etiquette rules. The appropriate behavior for drinking in a wine bar. Avoid embarrassments and be an ideal customer.
What wine bar etiquette is
Wine bar etiquette is the set of rules to go to a wine bar. It includes the appropriate time, how to order, what to eat and drink, and the appropriate behavior.
As a guest, know wine bar etiquette rules to avoid any embarrassment.
As a host, wine bar etiquette rules help you manage your customers’ expectations.
General wine bar etiquette principles
Wine bar etiquette is based on three main principles.
- Match our rights as customers with the appropriate manners.
- Respect the wine bar staff.
- Respect the other guests.
Wine bar etiquette rules
1) The appropriate time to get into a wine bar
The ideal time to visit a wine bar is after 18:00 (6 pm) or after dinner.
On a weekend or on holiday, lunchtime is appropriate too.
2) How to dress in a wine bar
The appropriate dress code depends on the venue and its style.
Usually, wine bars tend to be somewhat refined, yet informal venues. In general, it is best to avoid very informal styles. Thus, avoid flip-flops or tank tops.
Do not wear a hat inside the venue.
3) Wine bar ordering & drinking etiquette
How to order in a wine bar
Choose your wine based on the time of the day and weather.
In general, order light and dry wine before lunch or dinner. Stronger, full-bodied, sweet, or fortified wines are best after the meal. Avoid full-bodied wine in warm weather.
After a meal, do the opposite. Rosé and dry white wines are uncommon. Fruity white, full-bodied red, fortified, or dessert wines are the most appropriate.
Avoid spending too much time choosing. Do not make the other guests wait. Choose the type of wine first, such as sparkling or white wine. Then, pick the wine.
It is perfectly appropriate to order food at a wine bar. You can order some appetizers, cheese, or light courses. Avoid ordering large quantities of food.
How to drink in a wine bar
The wine bar will serve each wine with its appropriate glass. Apply the general drinking glass etiquette. Always hold the wine glass by the stem.
Drink your wine in small sips. A wine glass is supposed to last between 15 and 30 minutes. Do not rush.
Consider ordering water. Take a sip of water every now and then, while you drink your wine. It will help absorb the alcohol.
4) Wine bar seating and standing etiquette
If you sit, follow the basic table seating etiquette rules.
Keep your legs under control. Do not spread or stretch them.
If you stand at the bar or near a stall, limit your movements. Stand still and do not lean on the bar.
5) How to manage your belongings
If the wine bar has a wardrobe, leave any bag or luggage there.
Otherwise, place them where they do not impede the staff or the other guests. Ideally, keep them on the floor, on the side of your chair. If you are standing at the bar, place them between your feet and the bar.
6) Respect the staff and other guests
Few wine bars allow smoking. Before smoking, ask the staff and the guests at your table if they are ok with it.
Switch the sound of your phone off. Avoid taking a call, texting, or browsing if you are with others. Doing otherwise is a major etiquette breach.
Speak softly. Most wine bars are not loud venues.
Never bring any food or beverage from outside.
Limit the number of drinks. In general, 2 glasses of wine are ok. 3 or 4 are borderline. Over 4 can be too many. Order a full bottle if you are at least three persons. A full bottle in two could be too much, even more before a meal.
If you are getting tipsy, take a break. If you are getting beyond tipsy, consider leaving.
7) Wine bar rules for kids and pets
Depending on the country, kids or minors might be allowed in a wine bar. Follow the local rules.
Some wine bars allow pets on their premises, others do not. Call the wine bar to check their rules before going.
8) Wine bar check and tipping etiquette
Respect the closing time. Pay at your table or at the bar, depending on the venue. It is common to tip between 10% and 20% of the total.
Wine bar etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst wine bar etiquette mistakes.
- 10/10. Getting drunk.
- 8/10. Bringing food or drinks from outside.
- 6/10. Speaking loudly.
- 5/10. Wearing too informal clothes.
- 4/10. Ordering a large quantity of food.
- What is Excessive Alcohol Use?: cdc.gov