Ask any tasting room attendant… “What’s your worst nightmare?” and s/he’ll tell you it’s a bachelorette party gone wild.

I just came across a blog written about one, and as I read it I had an “Aha!” moment.

My aha was this… A bachelorette party, complete with boas, in a tasting room is not a winery’s most precious moment.

After having worked in Belvedere, Robert Mondavi, and Kendall-Jackson’s tasting rooms, the thought of the ones I encountered just brings back memories that make me want to write a Wine Tasting 101 blog.

In the blog I read about a group of  women who had hit a few selected wineries, and they even dragged along a baby in this instance. (I’m also very much into children being part of a parents’ tasting experience, but come on!)

The story was not about the wine they’d tasted. Instead, it had image upon image of them having a blast (nothing wrong with having a blast). The only mention of wine, was when criticizing the tasting rooms’ staff members… Perhaps because they weren’t the best guests in the room? It’s really hard to remain easy going, when an 800 pound gorilla is in the room. You can disguise it in boas, Girls, but a gorilla is still a gorilla.

It reminded me of the times my kids were having too much fun inside, and I’d tell them to take it outside, before they’d break something in the house.

A tasting room, where wine is being poured to educate consumers, is not equipped for a Mardi Gras atmosphere. It’s not, given my past experiences with bachelorette parties, about wine education. It’s more about having a rip roaring good time, and doing it where the wine flows freely. Most of these parties don’t buy wine, either. They just rattle the cage, and move on.

If you’ve been good girls at this, bless your hearts. You’re the exception to the rule, and this blog’s not about you.

While I’m all for having a great time, I also know there’s a time and place for everything, and a tasting room is not a good place for this kind of gathering, unless it’s done in a way to honor the winery. Perhaps the wine being poured at the wedding reception is from this winery. (What are the odds of that being the case, but I’m giving it my best shot, okay?) Perhaps it’s where the wedding is going to be the next day?

So, how does this become a positive?

Wine Tasting 101

  1. Call ahead to tell the winery when you’re going to be visiting with your group of people.
  2. Think of it like a restaurant, in terms of calling ahead… Restaurants need to know when a large party is going to be arriving.  This way, the customers are given better service, because the facility is completely prepared.
  3. Tell the winery what type of party this is going to be. This way, the winery can help in the celebration; versus causing the tasting room staff to be instantly put under an extreme circumstance, for which they are not prepared.
  4. When customers call ahead to let a winery know what’s coming, it allows the staff to give this kind of gathering a special location for tasting. This location might be in another room, or off to the side, but it definitely needs to be more compartmentalized.
  5. When a tasting room takes on an atmosphere of being out of control with “Girls Who Wanna Have Fun,” in a room where wine is being served, it makes for a very nervous situation, for both the staff and other visitors.
  6. Customers shouldn’t be surprised when the tasting room staff is forced to be a bit stern. Under these circumstances, it’s not something they relish, but they do do their best to adapt to the challenging situation. Be respectful, and all should go well.
  7. Setting this party off to the side, in a private way, doesn’t disrupt their other visitors, who might not want to be part of this party. Other customers might really be interested in tasting and enjoying the wines, without a group of party revelers.

Having a party is not wrong. Taking a private party to a place of business, without telling the business that the party’s arriving, is just bad manners.

Think of it this way… Would you have a child’s birthday party in a restaurant without calling first to say that 10 to 12 people are coming to celebrate?

Why should any winery be any different?