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May 1, 2011 11:04 AM

manners at wineries

As relative newbie, I have been trying out many of the local wineries in my area and I have a few questions of those with more experience. Should I feel obligated to buy a bottle if there is no tasting fee? And how do you politely leave a place with swill you dislike? Often these are small production places and I feel guilty listening as the owner or manger goes on about the micro-climate and special soil and such while I'm looking for the spittoon. I was at a small batch producer and all i can say is I hated the wine that was poured, which is not a problem by itself, you can't love everything. But then i had to drink it because there were no spittoons. But the wine maker was passionate and so enthusiastic that i bought a bottle anyway. By the way, what has happened to spittoons?
I guess my question is What are the rules of wine tasting at vineyards?

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  1. "Should I feel obligated to buy a bottle if there is no tasting fee?"

    No; If they give out free samples, it means they have enough sales to do so.

    "And how do you politely leave a place with swill you dislike?"

    Just swallow it and say "thank you for your time" and leave; if you like the producer, just tell him what you did not like in his products; it might be hard for you to say it and hard for him to get it, but that's the way it is.

    1. If you don't see a spit bucket, you should not hesitate to ask for one, even if they have to improvise something. Especially if you've arrived at the winery by driving yourself, you should not feel obligated to swallow.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boswell

        It's hard to ask for a spit bucket with your mouth full! :-)

        1. re: maria lorraine

          thanx for thread. I figured there was one but I did not ask the right search question.

        2. I have been in a situation like that before and my party was the only one in the tasting room. I was skeptical as soon as he told us that all of his wines were $14. We were courteous tasted the vile stuff and then thanked him and left. After you have done it a few times it gets easier. I still have a guilt bottle in my cellar that my sister's guilt bought.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pairswellwithwine

            I gifted the bottle to someone who loved it so much that they asked me to pick up a case for them so I guess everyone makes out.

          2. I think it’s OK not to buy a bottle at each winery you visit. Keep in mind that it cost the wineries to have tasting rooms. It’s their way of getting their product out there and in your mouth, Doing wine shoots for free all day is frowned upon and I’m sure that’s not what your doing but people do. I think you will build confidence in asking the vintner the right questions so that when you don’t buy his wine you will leave with his respect. After all, he knows which of his wines are bad already.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Woodfireguy

              I have to disagree with one of your comments.

              I'd question the inference in the statement that a vintner "knows which of his wines are bad already". He may well know that a wine is not his best, but years of doing tastings have taught me that experience, preference, and palate differences are usually the more dominant factors in a tasters conclusion that they don't like a wine. We have a wine region near us that I consider very much sub-par for the most part, but I regularly speak with people who say they love the wines there. Junk is junk, but there is a huge area in between that and the best.

              Even at the 'best' level there is disagreement. At the lower price levels, this is usually about the difference between a 'bad' wine and a 'badly constructed' wine. Even a good winemaker can't make a great wine without good fruit and/or the funds to handle that fruit in the optimum way. And that's only layered on top of the fact that any two people can and do disagree on a specific wine at any level.

              Just my 2¢.

              1. re: Midlife

                I do agree at least in this, just because I did not like it does not mean the wine was bad. My friend who asked about and rec'd the bottle as a gift loved it. I would never tell someone that their product was bad, Hell I may not even know what is good or bad. I can only speak to what I like and don't like.

                1. re: Midlife

                  This is true. You can't please everyone. When the OP uses the word swill I'm assuming it’s bad. I just canceled one of my wineries wine club memberships because of bad wine. They are trying to clear older vintages and are using the best customers to it. I know this because the same vintages are on sale in local markets. That’s bad wine and they knew it.