Good manners at Trade Tastings
April 20th, 2015 by
We’ve now reached the end of the trade tastings season and it’s time to take stock and review the success, or otherwise, of our recent efforts to win friends and influence people. We’ve certainly made a lot of new friends and we seemed to have influenced at least some of them to open new accounts with us, or to try new wines from the range. So far so good.
It does take a lot of time, effort, money and tasting samples to put on tastings, though, and it’s therefore quite important to be sure that all this is carefully targetted so that we get the maximum return on our hefty investment. We want people to come along, but we want them to be the ‘right’ people. There’s not much benefit to us in pouring lots of expensive samples for people who are not buyers and who are have really only turned up because they want to try and sell us advertising space or new wines. This is even more important if we’ve asked wine growers to come over to support an event. They’ve shelled out for flights and accommodation, so we really need to justify their expenses by ensuring that they are showing their wines to potential customers rather than wine club organisers. There are definitely some visitors who are more welcome than others, though we are, of course, far too polite ever to let this show…
I’ve already seen a certain ‘Director of X Hotel’ at at least four events in the past few months. He turns up regularly at wine trade tastings and registers on the door with business cards which look the part, but which are more than a little dodgy. He then works his way round the room sipping quietly but not taking any notes. He is obviously well used to being invited to leave and leaves quietly and discreetly when accosted. However, being regularly chucked out of events doesn’t seem to bother him greatly as he still turns up, smelling faintly but distinctly tramp-like if you get too close…
Also less welcome are those who turn up uninvited and register on the door, claiming to be wine writers who are members of The Press Club. Surprisingly enough, the next time you come across them they are no longer members of the press, but are now directors of luxury goods companies…And when you politely ask them when you will be able to the read the extensive review of your expensive Burgundies, they mutter something incoherent and quickly move off to another table.
Generally, we prefer to pour for visitors so we can have a chat and get some feedback while they are taking notes. It’s also easier to control how many bottles we get through as it’s always a bit of a shame to see most of a pour going straight into the spitton because it was too generous. It’s generally considered polite to acknowledge the person who is pouring for you rather than just hold outing your glass while chatting with your mate.
And while we’re on the subject of freeloaders, we’re not terribly keen on people whose first question at a tasting is ‘where’s the food?’ or those who hover expectantly at closing time waiting to pick up any open bottles. Actually, we quite like to take some of these home ourselves after a long and tiring day or else we prefer to give these to our regular customers. Please don’t forget that the clearing up process often needs to be very quick, so the end of the tasting is not an invitation to relax and have a leisurely chat. Venues often set very strict deadlines for clearing up and are quick to charge significant penalties for late finishes.
Every now and then we get a follow up call after a tasting from someone requesting samples. Here’s a typical recent example.
Hi there, I tasting xxx at the recent tasting and it was fantastic. I’m writing a piece about the wines I tasted and I wonder if you could send me a sample?
Me: Er, didn’t you make notes at the tasting?
Well, yes, I did! But I made so many notes that they’re quite hard to read and it would be really helpful to taste it again to reresh my memory as I write my article.
Me: Well maybe you could you let me know where your piece is going to be published?
Well, it’s actually my blog but I do get a lot of readers.
Me: That’s great, but actually we don’t send out free samples.
Oh. OK then. Bye.
Probably the very worst behaviour of all is stealing glasses from tastings. I couldn’t quite believe that people would really do this, but I’ve now seen this happen twice at tastings where the organisers made a big effort to source quality glasses. I just hope that the guilty parties dropped their stolen goods on the way home…