Wine Tasting Party?

Last night I attended a wine tasting held in a shop owned by a friend of my wife. The event was fun and appeared to be a successful way for her to get people into her store. Nothing wrong with that, it is a nice shop and the people running it are exceptionally nice themselves.. The folks pouring the wine were also trying to get people to sign up for their wine club. Nothing wrong with that, either. However, they were also hawking in-home wine tasting parties. Still nothing wrong? You decide.

As soon as I asked for some information about it they shoved a clip board under my nose with a form to sign up. After semi-politely informing them that I had their card and would call if I wanted anything more than information, they started their pitch with the details.

They want me to invite 12 people because that works best for them, but it has to be at least 6. Okay, while I don’t particularly appreciate being told how many guests I should invite to my party, I understand this. Next they tell me that I can serve whatever food I want, but that they can make suggestions for pairings. They will bring 6 wines for my guests to taste. The price tag for this is $70.

I will provide 12 of my friends to listen to their sales pitch, provide the place for them to give their sales pitch, provide the food to enhance their sales pitch, and it will only cost me $70? What a bargain! But that’s not all! If I act now I will also get a special, but unspecified gift. Possibly even crystal-like glasses. And if that isn’t enough, any wine that I order for myself that night will be half price.

I will concede that for my wife’s friend this was a great deal. She got to do something nice for her customers while also getting them to come into her store. Everybody wins and everyone is happy. I know that I was. But why would I want to do this in my home and to my friends?

If someone invited me to a wine tasting party in their home and I showed up to find that I was getting 6 two ounce measured pours and a sales pitch I would be a tad miffed. Wait, no I wouldn’t, I would be a lot pissed.

In addition, the people pouring the wines were, to be kind, less than knowledgeable. The first wine was a white Meritage. They did pronounce the word correctly, so they were off to a good start, but they immediately stumbled and never recovered.

After confessing that I was ignorant of the fact that wine makers were making white Meritages, I asked if it was Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. This brought a panicked look to the guy’s face and he grabbed his cheat sheet and answered that it was. He then looked at me like I was psychic, or something. It crossed my mind to educate him on what a Meritage is, but decided to shove a free cracker in my mouth instead.

The capper was that of the 6 wines, 3 white and 3 red, only the whites were drinkable. The reds were thin and came from regions not known for the varietals. All 6, to me at least, tasted like wines that should be priced in the $8 to $15 range. They had them priced closer to $20. Special club price, of course.

With wine’s growing popularity it shouldn’t really be a surprise that the schemes like this would start to pop up, but this is not how folks should be getting introduced to the world of wine. I will write about how to throw a tasting party soon.

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