We have a standard response when agency representatives and wineries ask if we accept samples for review. Yes, we do. All we ask is that you e-mail us a tracking number when you ship out the wine. It seems to me it should be something standard when any order or sample is sent. First, because we live in a hot climate, and want to ensure that we receive the wine as it was intended to taste. Second, because if we don’t know a wine has arrived, we cannot go pick it up. And third, if we don’t pick it up, it may be sent back to you at your expense.
Recently we received an e-mail asking if we wanted to participate in a particular date-certain event. I responded that we did, provided a shipping address, and issued the standard request for a tracking number. The event came and went. I assumed that the sponsor had decided not to ship us wine to participate. We stopped by our receiving service to pick up a care package for Project Y-ine, and discovered two other shipments of which we were unaware. One was for the on-line event. And we were picking it up two weeks after the event had concluded.
Now usually the nice ladies at our receiving company call us when receive a shipment. But sometimes it comes in when a new person is on duty. Or they just anticipate we’ll come in, and hold the shipment, rather than call us. If they do call us, and we choose not to pick up that day, we’re charged a daily fee for storage. That’s fine as long as it was our choice to do so. But given that we picked up wine the prior week, we should have had at least a heads up that the event wines had arrived, albeit late.
Wineries and their agents who wish to have the wines reviewed should make sure the reviewer knows the wine is on its way, especially when the wine is for a date-certain event. The event in question lost the opportunity for free real time mentions of its wines – because we had no idea we had received them. For all we know, we hadn’t received them at all — but if we had, we missed the event entirely. Simply because someone failed to send us a tracking number.
The good folks at Catavino have a message on their “Submit a Sample” page that we really liked. So much so, that we created a similar page with much the same verbiage. It goes like this:
Before sending your wines, we ask that you please contact us by email beforehand. Without this email, we take no responsibility for wines that are not delivered, or that are returned to you.
The difference is that we add the request for tracking number, and CataVino publishes their address directly on the webpage. Since we are charged per package at our shipping receiver, we have a different address for correspondence and wine shipments. We don’t print either address because we don’t want to pay for an envelope of literature, now do we wish to receive ruined wine should the addresses be transposed and the wine sent to the mailing address. That and we really don’t want to receive a bunch of junk direct mail from those who have nothing whatsoever to do with wine appropriating our address and selling it to others. Since CataVino is outside the United States, direct mail companies are more apt to re-consider sending them just anything, because of the added express and time for sending something to Spain.
Now some of you are saying, “Oh you carping gadfly, you should not complain about how you receive your “free wine.” But a sample is never free. There is the time involved in picking it up. The time involved in tasting, and, should we decide to do so, the time involved in writing a review. If you’ve taken any business or economics classes, you’ve no doubt learned about opportunity cost. That’s the cost of not doing something else you might have chosen instead of the present alternative.
However the winery’s main concern should be obtaining a timely review of its wine. If a reviewer is unaware that she has received a shipment, she cannot review the wine. It’s a simple concept. And one that would help the wineries get the message out.
Such a small thing to ask: when shipping us wine, please e-mail a tracking number!