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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wine Tasting Tip #12 - Rephrasing Your Questions

Part of a series of tips for visiting winery tasting rooms.

You should always ask questions about wine and the general area when visiting the local tasting rooms. Learning is what it's all about. However, a lot of the questions asked are a bit too generic to receive an adequate response. Imagine visiting a new car dealership and asking things like, "What's your best car?" or "Which is the best dealership in town?" or "What's your favorite car?" Sounds funny, but similar things get asked in a winery tasting room. Lets rephrase those questions to be more specific and get you the answer you want.

Where should I go to eat?
Unless you're out in the middle of nowhere there's bound to be dozens of choices. Instead say something like:
We'd like a casual place to get a quick sandwich or
I want a first-class meal damn the price or
What's your favorite pizza place?

Do you have a restaurant? I didn't get lunch.
Restaurants at wineries are rare and not to be expected. Plan your lunch breaks. Some wineries will have basic cheese, crackers or similar items. Ask:
Do you sell any food items?

I know you close in five minutes, but we came all the way from _____ to try your wines.
It's been heard before. If you're going to show up at closing it's okay to ask something like:
I know we're late. Is it okay to sample one? I'm really looking for a nice Cabernet.

My uncle owns a restaurant in Missouri, is my tasting free?
You should expect to pay for your tasting like everyone else unless you're a club member or work at another local winery. You can say:
I work at _______ and we offer winery folks ______. Then their policy will determine if you get anything special.

I hate Chardonnay / Rosé / whatever.
Okay, it's not a question, but a common statement heard in tasting rooms. Their Chardonnay or Rosé might be better than that cheap stuff you find at the grocery store. It's okay to say something like:
I don't usually drink Chardonnay. What's yours like?

What's your best wine?
Well, that's a loaded question! Best wine for what? Maybe you should ask what's the best wine for you by saying something like:
We're having friends in next week and we're cooking up our famous fried chicken dinner. What do you think would go with that? Or
We like to sit on the patio in the afternoon with a glass of wine and maybe some cheese. What would you sip on in that circumstance?

What's the best winery?
Define "best." Be more specific. Say something like:
We're looking for a nearby spot for a picnic and a bottle of sparkling wine.

What winery should I go to next?
Good question. There are a few hundred choices so narrow down what you want by asking something similar to this:
We're heading north. Can you recommend a stop that has several Zinfandels available?

Can I get a bigger taste?
Would you ask the bartender to pour you a bigger drink? Once you're done you can say:
I can't decide between the Cabernet I just had and the Pinot from before. Can I get a small taste of the Pinot Noir again?

Can I let my kids run around to burn off some energy?
Yes, people have actually asked this! Would you ask that of a restaurant server or a store clerk? Instead ask:
Do you know of a nearby park where I can let the kids play for a bit?

I love your wines. Where can I buy them?
Buy them here. Buy them now. That's what keeps the tasting room in business! Actually, that's not just a half-assed sales pitch. Smaller wineries generally don't sell outside the tasting room. The larger ones often have a line of wine for distribution across the country (or world) and other wines sold locally.
So instead ask:
Can I buy this Chardonnay back home?