THE TASTING EXPERIENCE: The Good and The Bad

As I mentioned in my Facebook TIP yesterday, I was out wine tasting and checking out wineries over the weekend. My tastings all took place outside California. While the majority of the people who served me were very nice, I came away with concerns about the servers’ basic wine knowledge, as well as their ability to sell.

At one winery I had the server – who was very nice and personable – tell me that one of the wines had gone through partial malolactic fermentation, but that they weren’t sure what that was. – I explained it.

Every winery server started pouring wine before they asked me what I liked, or what I wanted, or said much of anything at all. At one winery the server poured me the first wine without saying a word to me. The server left a bottle of wine in front of me. I assumed it was the wine that was poured; it wasn’t – it was the next wine to pour! As the first couple of wines were not varietals I was very familiar with, I had no idea what I was drinking – other than that it was white.

On the good side, at two wineries, people other than the server stopped by the bar to talk to me. As I was alone, it was nice that they did, as I was the only single taster in any of the wineries that I visited. At one winery it was the owner who greeted me at the door. That was a nice touch he was pleasant and welcoming.

At every winery the server gave me information about the wines I was tasting, though all the information they gave me was repeated verbatim from the tasting notes I had in front of me. More than once the server volunteered their personal opinions about the wine. One server told me that they thought that one of the wines was “blah at the end.” I rather liked the wine and thought it had a decent finish, but it could have definitely put me off if I didn’t know much about wine.

I don’t think offering a personal opinion is a bad thing but please, please, only offer positive opinions. If you don’t like a wine, or think it could have been made in a different style, don’t mention it. Ask the visitor what they think instead. They might like it.

At only one winery was I asked any questions at all, and this winery person asked me one question. Would you like to guess the question? You’re right, got it! It was “Where are you from?”

No one was rude to me, though it was obvious that no one was particularly interested in me either. I went away knowing much more about my servers than they knew about me. So, while I did not have any terrible or even bad experiences, none of the experiences were particular memorable, and we don’t buy from people or businesses we don’t remember.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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