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Wine tasting etiquette?

Tokyo
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118 posts
5 reviews
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Wine tasting etiquette?

We are heading to Colmar in early August. Very much looking forward to tasting a variety of local wines. A little worried about the etiquette involved. I've read that, particularly at the smaller producers, a wine tasting is likely to be free of charge with courtesy dictating a purchase of a couple of bottles as appropriate. This seems entirely fair to me, but our problem will be logistics. Airport customs issues aside, it doesn't seem feasible to be carrying many bottles of wine with us. So, I am wondering if there are places where we can sample various wines, possibly for a set fee, or some other system, where we won't feel obliged to buy bottles, and won't risk offending anyone.

Thanks for any advice you can give us.

Ray

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Colmar
Colmar
Haut-Rhin, France
Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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1. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

You are correct in your analysis. It would be appropriate to purchase a couple of bottles if you take up someone's time for a wine tasting. Those who travel by air are limited in what they can purchase making a paid tasting a better option. You obviously can sample local wines at local restaurants but if you want to visit producers, I would inquire at the Colmar Office de Tourisme about tours or other wine tasting events.

http://www.ot-colmar.fr/en/

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Colmar
Colmar
Haut-Rhin, France
Atlanta
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55 reviews
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2. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

To me the value of tasting with a small vitner very much includes discussing the wine, the strengths and challenges of specific vintages, grapes, weather, the move to organic methods, the balancing of old and new vines, etc. Much more than you get from "tasting" in a restaurant or on your own. I never feel any pressure to buy, but you're right, the purchase of a bottle or two certainly helps keep the system working. I would never buy anything I didn't like, seldom anything I didn't like very much, but absent a private plane there's no way to carry back all you would like. So, drink wine with lunch, drink wine on a picnic, drink wine at dinner, drink wine after dinner, and take home a few bottles in checked luggage - interspersed with a tasting or two here and there you'll do fine (though of course you will immediately want to come back).

Atlanta
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3. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

Also don't bypass the "biggies" - after all, it's their product you can find back home. At Hugel or Trimbach you'll taste a flight, from dry to sweet, although not in very intimate setting. Our house wine is Trimbach Pinot Blanc, not because it's the best but because it's available, cheap and we like it better than the alternatives here. That extra dry, extra minerally gewurz from a family shop - well, for that, you gotta go back. It's the way of the world (and wine/liquor distribution, which is simultaneously highly regulated, highly corrupt and highly arbitrary).

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Trimbach
Trimbach
42 Reviews
Ribeauville, France
Tokyo
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4. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

Thank you both very much for your advice.

DEAinATL, when you say 'don't bypass the biggies', are you suggesting that at the larger producers, the 'requirement' to make a purchase is reduced / non-existent?

Ray

Atlanta
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5. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

Yes, although it's never a "requirement." At the smaller vitners you deal one on one with the vitner (or his wife or son, etc) - you are not only consuming his product, you're taking his time. No big deal, that's why he posted the "degustation" sign. Hence there is a certain quid-pro-quo, though never any "requirement." It's not like selling you one or two bottles is going to put his kid through school. You can always explain your luggage quandary and ask if there is any distribution near you (they don't always know, as distribution is its own world).

In a larger facility you're usually dealing with an employee or several at a time if larger groups are coming through (though even the most senior vitner may drop in!). You may have to pay a few euro for tasting, particularly if some touring is included. Somewhat less of a quid-pro-quo, I'd say.

Tokyo
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6. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

Thanks again DEA, much appreciated.

Ray

7. Re: Wine tasting etiquette?

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