Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Limited tasting or "Flights, Good or Bad?"

So you stop into your favorite winery and the well groomed tasting room employee asks the usual, "What kinds of wines do you enjoy?" You tell them you like most all wines and you see them hesitate before responding, "Great, what are your favorites?"

You tell this capable pourer you like dusty dry reds and sinfully sweet fruit wines, plus everything in between. The taster-facilitator says, "Glad to hear it, we would be happy to pour any eight wines for your tasting flight, here's our wine list."

Why have some wineries taken to limiting their customers free wine tastings? Many reasons are given, many are the same as mentioned in the previous post regard paid tastings. Too many pours for too few sales, people coming in for a free tasting and buying nothing, among others.

One issue for many wineries is drunk driving liability. In our small winery we presently are offering nine dry and ten sweet wines. If we pour one ounce samples (a suggested amount) we have provided more then two glasses of wine, enough to have someone be over the legal limit. At our winery, we shoot for about 1/2 ounce samples, two good sips, and only about one glass of wine. Of course, not every one tries all our wines, so they get much less then a full glass in total.

In the wineries I have visited that offered "flights" or limited our tasting, the numbers are between four and eight wines. They suggest you and your spouse share different samples, effectively doubling your tastings, but the amount poured is generally shy of what two people would need for two good sips each.

Like we all things, a balance is needed. One lawsuit lost would put a winery out of business, so we owners must reflect a concern for our livelihood. Yet, over-limiting tasting can limit sales, so the balance must be sought. What do you think? Comment here (see below) or email me at

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