Around the winery I am a man of many nicknames. It’s seriously gotten to the point where my actual name is rarely uttered. One of my favorite nicknames happens to be Bon Vivant, which translated from French means “good living”. This term is also used in reference to somebody who has exceptionally good, cultivated taste; in particular, when it comes to food and wine. Although I love food and wine, my nickname was derived more so from my style of dress and appearance.
Although I can appreciate a fuzzy pair of sweatpants, or a worn-in set of flip-flops, there is definitely an appropriate time and place for those clothing items…and also a time and place where they aren’t. Embarking on a wine tasting expedition is not necessarily a formal affair, but it’s also one of those social activities that can be considered more upscale than most. As such, whenever I go wine tasting, I try to dress accordingly.
While I would never suggest that anybody dress in a manner that would make them feel uncomfortable, here are a few of my style suggestions to guys for when they hit their next tasting room:
I’m a bit of a shoe connoisseur, and if fact, it’s probably the first thing I notice from anybody’s attire. In my opinion, shoes are an item that can either make or break an outfit. Whenever I go wine tasting, I always feel that a pair of close-toed, broken-in dress shoes are appropriate. I’m not implying that you should rock $600 wingtips, but something that looks casual and classy at the same time.
Obviously, if you’re anticipating a full day of standing at a tasting room bar and chugging vino, you’re going to want to wear shoes that don’t hurt your feet, so use your best judgment beforehand.
Really, there is no right or wrong here. I prefer to wear pants on a day-to-day basis and that includes whenever I go to visit wineries as well. Nice jeans are totally acceptable in my opinion, as are slacks or any other dress pant. Obviously if it’s ten billion degrees out on the day of your wine excursion, pants won’t sound appealing.
Shorts are totally fine, too, but with my aforementioned shoe choice, dress shoes and shorts can potentially not get along. While some dudes can pull off this combo, I will ultimately leave this decision up to you.
Lastly, and this probably goes without saying, sweat pants should never be considered an option while tasting wine…unless, of course, you’re extremely hungover from tasting wine the day before. That last part was a joke. Sort of. (If you’re that hungover, you should probably just spend the day at the hotel pool).
As with the pants/shorts recommendations, this is really up to your discretion and the situation. I find that collared, button-down shirts tend to be classier in general, but that’s not saying that a t-shirt can’t be considered appropriate for a day of tasting wine. V-neck t-shirts are a good choice for those that don’t want to be burdened with a collar.
With that all said, if you elect to go with a t-shirt, remember that simple is better. Keep the prints minimal and if you’re thinking about donning your 1984 Van Halen Jump Tour t-shirt, it might be better to keep it in the closet.
This is an item of clothing where my opinion might differ from most. I love hats and I wear them frequently. However, not all hats are made equal. There are some that are definitely more appropriate in a winery setting over others. Fedoras fit in for sure, as do other lids of that ilk. Baseball hats aren’t even taboo necessarily, as long as they aren’t being worn in some ridiculous fashion (which, I suppose is subject to interpretation).
Perhaps the one frequently-worn hat I would advise guys not to wear would be the trucker-style with the mesh backs. These are best suited for the beach, or a bar, or riding your longboard around town…but not tasting wine at a winery.
Um, probably wear them?
When it comes down to it, there is no rule book on how to present yourself when going wine tasting. Everything I’ve offered are merely suggestions to make yourself look more presentable in a tasting room environment (if you even care). Every winery and each tasting room are different in terms of their vibes; with some being a little snooty and fancier, and others being laid-back and casual. My best advice is to go to the places that fit your style and you can feel comfortable wearing what you want. After all, nobody is REALLY going to stop you if you drink wine in your sweatpants.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Chief Hat Wearer (literally), Resident Hunky Ginger and Wine Club Coordinator at Miner Family Winery, I like to surround myself with good friends and great times. I feel that wine plays a big part in that. My goal is to provide unpretentious insight on wine culture from a guy’s perspective, as well as the Napa Valley in general. I also love baseball and dogs.