Friday, July 23, 2004

Bitching about paying $5 to taste wine

Capitalism spoils trip to wine country

This might be the dumbest wine-related article I've ever read.  While claiming to be a "true-blooded believer in free-market democratic capitalism unencumbered by government regulation and taxation", Mr. Mortman then decries wineries for (gasp!!) trying to make a buck.  The horror!  The horror!

Those of us who live in wine country know that for years our roads have been filled with weekend tourists who would come up to get free booze.  Yes, its really that simple.  A free buzz while driving some beautiful country roads. 

The traditional argument for providing free pours was that you were promoting your brand, but after 5 or 6 other winery visits, what are the odds that your now-sloshed visitors will even remember what varietal you poured them, let alone the name of your winery?

Charging for pours is right for many reasons:

1)  People value something that they pay for (like advice) versus attaching no value to freebies.  Paying $5 encourages them to actually stop to taste and evaluate the wine rather than gulp it to get a refill.  They might, heaven forbid, actually ask a few questions of their server and learn a little, thereby (perhaps) retaining some small kernel of information that might spark a purchase of the same wine in the store.

2)  It allows the wineries to control crowds on busy weekends.  Virtually nobody visits a winery to taste Monday-Thursday and the overabundance of weekend crowds at popular wineries leads them to want to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Harsh, but hey this is capitalism isn't it?

3)  It gives the wineries some revenue for their product (capitalism rearing its ugly head again) and although Mr. Mortman was probably too cheap to actually purchase wines, many tasting rooms will credit your tasting fee toward the purchase of a bottle or two (which, Mr. Mortman, also comes at a cost, sorry).

4)  Preventing people from showing up just to get drunk lowers a wineries liability risk as well.  Charging for tastes cuts down on the DUIs and accidents and I (at least) think that's a good thing.

Perhaps Mr. Mortmann should take the short journey over to Fairfield when Budweiser still gives free samples after you go through their tour.  That might be more to his liking....


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