We're testing our new mobile-friendly website. Check out the beta version and let us know what you think!
Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I am a member of a couple of local winery wine clubs, which offer free tastings for members. What is the proper etiquette for how often we should go so we don’t look like we are taking advantage of the perk? Once a quarter? Once a month? Once every couple of weeks?
My guess is that because it occurs to you that you might look like a freeloader, you probably aren’t one. (That doesn’t apply to everyone—there are absolutely people who take advantage of free tastings.)
From a retailer or producer’s perspective, they’re offering free samples because they want to entice you to buy something, usually whatever it is they’re offering for you to sample. I don’t think you’d necessarily be expected to buy something every time you sample, but you should approach things as a prospective customer—if not that day, then sometime in the future. The spirit of a free tasting isn’t really just to walk in, throw some wine back and leave.
There’s no single right or wrong answer—every place and person will have a different tolerance for this scenario. But please try to use each tasting experience as a way to learn about wine, not just drink it. You can demonstrate this by engaging your host with questions, or by taking tasting notes. I’m guessing your membership wasn’t free, but even so, you could express your appreciation by thanking them for giving you an opportunity to taste there.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash