How to NOT Buy Wine

One way to think about a winery’s tasting room is that it is a sales showroom.  In the same way that you buy stereo equipment, jewelry or other luxury goods, at a winery they show you many things you can buy, let you try out a few and then, if you buy, get one out of stock.  Let’s face it, wine tasting is temptation.

Photo courtesy of SevenFifty Daily.

Just as there are many reasons to buy a specific wine, there are many reasons not to.  Most obviously, if you don’t like the way a wine tastes, the temptation to buy is much less.  Even if you do, you might not like it as much as others in the same price range.  Or maybe you like it a lot but you can’t afford a bottle at the price quoted.

There is a subtle pressure to buy something.  A nice person has been pouring you wines to taste and chatting pleasantly with you.  It’s human nature to want to reciprocate.  So when the server says, “Would you like to take some wine home with you?”, you may feel like you ought to say “yes”.  (Note that the word “buy” was never came into the conversation.)

  • You have no obligation to buy anything. That’s true in a jewelry store as well, but at least the jeweler doesn’t charge you for the privilege of trying on a ring.  In the old days, when tastings were free, there might have been a bit (only a bit) of a moral imperative.  Remember, you paid for your tasting so you don’t have to buy anything else.
  • Wines at a winery are rarely bargains. In many cases, you’ll find that the same wine sold in the tasting room can be bought back home for substantially less.  There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out to the server.  However, there are some wines that are only available at the winery.  In those cases, you have to decide if the quality difference compared with the wine in the store near you is worth the price.  It might even be instructive to ask the server what differentiates the winery-only selection from their more easily found wine. If you don’t get good answers, don’t buy.
  • You have to take it home with you. If you live near the winery, that’s not a problem.  But if you’ve taken a plane to get to that part of Wine Country, you’re either going to have to put the bottle in your luggage or ship it.  Even if you decide to do one of those things, there are limits.  US Customs only allows you to bring back two bottles per person from overseas.  Even domestic shipping cost can be a significant deterrent as well.
  • Try to strengthen your sales resistance. Remember, you’ve been drinking.  Maybe you’re on vacation too.  Your ability to say “no” is not at its peak.  So if you feel yourself about to say “yes”, turn to the person you came with and ask, “What do you think?”  That can be a pre-arranged signal to turn thumbs-down.  Or if you both are in favor, this may be the time to buy.



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