I Can Read

Coming off the heels of my most recent California trip, I want to talk about a thing or two I find extremely annoying in tasting rooms.  And this happens when I wander in just as a regular old visitor and when I come in for a pre-arranged tour/visit as a wine blog writer.  I think it irritates me more because I’m not there to get drunk and not buy any of your wine. In fact, quite the opposite.  I spit everything I taste and I take copious notes about what I’m tasting.

I always have a note book open and I begin actively taking notes the second I walk into a tasting rooms.  This is even more true when I’ve pre-arranged a visit or you’ve invited me to come visit because of this wine blog.  As I taste, I take lots of notes and I ask lots of questions.  Please, please, please…stop telling me what I should taste or smell in your wine.  I understand the point of this, but know your audience.  Especially when your PR folks have set up a visit or you’ve invited me to come in for a visit…don’t tell me what to taste.  It just irritates me and puts me in a bad mood.  If I really want to regurgitate your tasting notes, I can read them on the tasting sheet.

Which brings me to my next point.  And again, this particularly irks me when I am there because you invited me due to this wine blog.  I don’t care what Parker, the Spectator, or any other critic rated your wine.  I’d like to taste it and come to my own conclusions thank you very much.  Also, this information is usually splashed all over your tasting notes…so if I want it, I have it at my fingertips.  And I can read.

Ultimately, I think the goal is to know your audience.  Someone taking notes probably doesn’t want you to spout off a string of aromas and flavors that your tasting sheet says are in the wine.  Someone who is coming to your winery on a personal invitation because they review wine probably doesn’t really care what other critics rated your wine.  In my case, I’m infinitely more interested in the history of the winery, the range of wines produced, where your vineyards are, etc.  Tell me a story and I’m a hooked.


7 Responses

  1. Agree. Our policy is to entertain rather than over-educate. There is a fine line when a guest’s eyes start glazing over.

  2. Thanks for the input Ash! A glazed over eye look is never good when you’re trying to get someone to buy your wines!

  3. yes! I need a distraction free environment when I’m tasting please!

  4. I stress this to my employees (that would be 2) who interact with visitors at my winery’s tasting room. Also, you will not find a taste descriptor in my tech sheets. The acidity level and sweetness degree of my wines is as far as I go for a tasting note. I prefer to leave the “golden apple” or “cranberry” for the taster to discover. With that said, if a certain visitor wants to go down that route, we are happy to engage in wine-geek talk.

  5. Excellent Post Megan. It all comes down to lack of training in the tasting room. Quite often, and I speak from experience having worked in a tasting room for a few years, the people behind the bar are undertrained and underwhelming.

    Part of it comes from the palfry wages that wineries pay their tasting room staff. I’ve never been able to understand how wineries can do this with, what is essentially their public face to the market. Most of the time it is hobbiests (weekends), wet-behind-the-ears college grads, and/or retirees. Few, if any, have had an formal sales or marketing training.

    It is, therefore, the responsibility of the winery’s PR and markeing staff to make sure that they are all using their brains (unfortunately, often in short supply) and use common sense (even in less supply). If a winery doesn’t have the experience or skills to accomplish this task, than they need to contract with or hire someone who does. As Direct-to-consumer sales become a greater priority for all wineries, this is no time to skimp on costs or time.

    Thus endeth the Caveman rant…

  6. Megan,

    You have a very real and forthright way about your approach. It is refreshing and welcome. I never told people what they would taste in our wines because everyones palate is different. I encourage them to try it and if they like it, buy it, if not, try something else. Well done.

  7. I agree Becky!

    Good for you Marco. I think that’s a good way to go!

    Thanks for the rant Michael. All excellent points. I agree that training is important, and it’s amazing that some of the front of the house folks, the face of the brand, don’t get what they need!

    Thanks Jim!

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