As we head back into the tasting season after the summer break, I thought it would be a good time to explain our tasting program. I have been asked on several occasions why we organize our public tastings differently from the traditional paid-ticket/program-based format that many other shops run. As many of you know, almost all of our tastings are free to attend, and yet the quality of the wines presented and the information shared are unsurpassed anywhere in the city.
Everybody knows stores use paid ticket tastings as a way to cover costs, generate revenue and promote sales, and that is fine, but we feel it is also important to give people the chance to taste wines that maybe are outside their experience. The cost of learning can be very high and that has made many people wary of exploring too far outside their own familiar ground – hence the number of times you have been served Shiraz with fish.
And that is exactly what we want to do with our tastings; get people out of their comfort zone and show them all the wonderful things that wine can be so they can be more confident in their wine choices. Would you gamble $40 on an exceptional Willi Schaefer Riesling that is being suggested to you for your special dinner if the only Riesling you had ever tasted was Grandma’s Hochtaler?
We work hard on our program and often bite the bullet on expenses to ensure that:
- You are presented with wines that really speak to the topic at hand and are not just program wines that the agents have been told to push
- The tasting is led by someone who really knows their subject, whether that is an agent (you will notice that we work with a very select group of top-drawer agents), a winemaker, or a national Brand Ambassador so that everything is fully explained and your questions answered.
- You get the chance to experience top quality wines from all over without gambling serious dollars to do it, and in an informal and relaxed atmosphere that puts you at ease.
Yes, of course, if you like what you have tasted and want to take a few bottles home afterward, we would be delighted to sell you some, but hopefully you will also go home having learned something new and with an increased confidence in your wine knowledge.
Jeff Sparling is the general manager of Fine Wines by Liquor Select and a wine and scotch enthusiast.