We’ve been to so many tasting rooms over the years; tiny little trailers, log cabins, and Quonset huts to huge mansions with art works, sitting areas, patios, overlooking crush pads and barrel rooms. We have had such widely varying experiences we thought we would write down what it is that we are looking for in a tasting room. Perhaps we can find a way to help the tasting rooms become better at what they are intended to do, market their Wine.
What are we looking for in my perfect tasting room?
So many flavors of tasting rooms
No matter what the building or location here are the thoughts the Oregon Wine Geeks have on the tasting room experience. It may be that our palates are jaded, it may be that we cringe a little when we see the gilded lily; “What of this effort could have gone into wine?” It may be that we are not the market that some big producers are after.
But it seems that so many tasting rooms want us to be club members, and if we are not interested, want to shoo us out the door, that we felt we had to try and help.
We are in tasting rooms to review, promote, buy and drink wine. In the rush to sell today’s wine, and push for membership, tasting rooms are making it hard for us, in some instances, to buy wine. In instances where we might need help carrying out cases of the stuff!
Where did you get that wine?
We are here to taste your wine, if you promote small wineries, we very much appreciate that. Please understand that those wines reflect upon you, the winery. Whether these are friends or a purchase on the open market, the quality of wine in the glass at your tasting room reflects upon you. Will you put this wine in a club shipment? If you are pushing other wines more than your own, what will my shipments look like? We arrive at your tasting room to find the best wine we can for all the consumers of wine. We focus on Southern Oregon; we want to promote the best local wine, at a good value. We hunger for wines that we can be proud to heap praise upon. That is our passion.
Was it me, or did I miss that taste?
There is the formula for “How much wine did you sell based on the number of bottles you gave away for tastings?” But in many ways, that little sip from too small a pour is a wasted effort; not having enough of a wine in the glass will not let enough aromas escape for proper tasting no matter how deeply I stick my big nose into the glass. Chances are I’ll have to work too hard to find the nose. My mind will tell me “scant” and it is possible I may have missed a very good wine. “To the dump bucket with you!” It takes a full minute, three deep breaths to taste and evaluate the wine, and at least two swishes on the palate. The second swish and either swallow or spit will confirm my first thought, or enhance it.
How you doin’?
On the other side of that coin, I avoid the wineries that pour too much. Getting me drunk, will probably benefit the winery after you, not your winery. I don’t need three ounce pours over seven tastes. I appreciate the sentiment, but you should buy me dinner before you get me drunk and take advantage of me. But picking between the two I’ll always take more wine, I’ll just be dumping it out more.
Oh no, you can’t taste that wine, don’t be silly!
Don't hold back your best wines to get us to join the club. We buy wine, recommend a wine or winery and join clubs based on our palate. Pour me your very best wine. We are not interested in joining a club to get the chance to buy wines that may not strike our fancy, no matter the awards. It pains us, as port style wine enthusiasts and lovers of dessert wines, to walk away from your tasting room not having had yours because you never have an open bottle that we could try. If you let us taste your good port, you may have a terrible time keeping it in stock and some will go home with us! It is one of the wines that keep very well over time so have a bottle open to taste. We will not buy wines that are mysteries because there are so many excellent wines out there that are good friends.
What? You don’t like my wine?! No soup for you!
This should be on a placard in every tasting room stating that pouring out a taste of wine is not an insult to the wine maker. Most pourers understand that we might pour out a very acceptable wine into a dump bucket. What we are NOT here to do today, is to get drunk. We are probably going to several tasting rooms and will be keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum. But more importantly than that, whether a wine is “good” or not is completely independent of whether anyone of us liked it or not.
Wait, was the good Merlot at the third or the fifth tasting?
We love a written list of the flight you are serving, with room for our notes. This might not be our first stop today, and we don’t want to be entirely too geeky pulling out our iPads to take notes on, so old school writing utensils and a little room help us to enjoy our day. These tasting flight lists also give you a chance to tell us about the wine. We probably won’t read notes until after we taste but we’d love to know the vintage, vineyards, barrel ageing and other wine details. We like to compare what we taste to what you tasted.
Oh, you like wine, do you?
Go ahead and go off the menu, or better yet have an advanced flight set up, reds, whites, both, desserts and Sherries. Not yet released, barrel samples, newly bottled samples. Everyone loves to feel special, and getting the chance to try something that is not going to be out of the barrel for six more months will make us look for it, and follow your wine.
The Lost Varietal…
The most fun tasting are those filled with back stories and people who share the passion for wine. We hang on every word of those that are knowledgeable. Those that are pouring and talking about the wine, vineyards, winemakers, vintners, even old barns and buildings and history are the treat that makes the day memorable. Don’t be afraid to say this year’s vintage is different or what vintage was your favorite. We love to know what the person who pours thinks.
How much tax should I add for the tip?
And when the tasting room attendants do make it memorable, where is the tip jar? We endeavor to stop and get cash specifically for tip jars. Taxes and all we understand, but we have felt terrible because we have felt we’ve “stiffed” pourers because we couldn’t find a place to tip. That is a very uncomfortable experience.
The rest of the story
All the comments above shows you that though we love to sit on the grand tasting rooms stone patio overlooking the terraced vineyards while tasting the latest Rhone varietal on a summer afternoon it’s all about the wine. But tasting rooms are also about people and places. Wine tasting is one of the great things we can do here in Oregon and specifically in Southern Oregon. If a tasting room has people who are a treat to talk to and the wine is good it could be a great tasting room and be in a tent. It is from the tasting room that our passion for winery, vineyard or winemaker bloom. We want to help ensure that everyone gets the best possible experience walking into a Southern Oregon tasting room to share with friends and family and to return to buy your wines again and again.
Below is the Oregon Wine Geeks Tasting Room Scoring Sheet, You can download this as a Pdf and print some for yourself if you like.
Posted By: Tim Morton & Ted Weldon @ 4:42:02 PM