"Why do I have to pay for a tasting?"

Monday, 19 August, 2013
Chard O' Nay
Dear Aunt Chard,

I recently took some friends to a winery in Franschhoek where we were charged R45 each for a tasting. It seemed a little steep for me and there was no real energy or passion to the server as she offhandedly poured the wines.
I'm just wondering, why should someone have to pay for that tasting?
The experience was so dull, that I didn't feel like buying any of wines on offer and left feeling used.
Dear Simon,

I'm sorry for your bad experience but I do welcome the question.

An article placed last year on wine.co.za, answers the question from a legal perspective:

The Liquor Board is entitled to grant an approval to offer wine for tasting and to charge a tasting fee.
According to Danie Cronjé, the Director of Liquor Law Services at Cluver Markotter Incorporated, however, this does not mean that wineries are now automatically entitled to charge a tasting fee.
In terms of the new Act, the conditions of existing liquor licenses remain applicable therefore tasting must still be free of charge unless the license holder applies for the amendment of its license conditions to allow for charging a tasting fee

A lot of wineries add a tasting fee to discourage "student drinkers" but you will find, at good wine estates, if you're truly interested in the wine, they will give the tasting for free. However, to use the term "student drinkers", should only apply to vineyards in Stellenbosch or CBD and surrounds.

From a personal standpoint, I have a real issue with paying for a tasting that is provided by someone so uninterested in the world that I could set myself on fire and they wouldn’t notice.
On occasion, when a tasting has been awful and I mean awful as in 1) they didn’t explain the wines, 2) the wines were open for days on end and 3) the staff were rude, I have walked away and refused to pay – judge me all you like.

I find that in this day and age, there really is no room for bad service. Wine should be part of everyone’s lifestyle and a conversion can often happen in a tasting room - it can be a gateway to a wine relationship.

It is up to you how you handle a bad tasting experience but personally, I think the tasting room manager and marketing team should be advised so that they can hopefully make some changes. Wine is such a big part of South Africa but it still has a long way to go - unfortunate events in the tasting room set us back.

Places I could happily sit shedding banknotes:

Kanonkop –  fabulous team of wine-lovers, treating each individual as though they were long-lost relatives.
Nitida – passionate staff who are ready to help you with anything.
Mulderbosch – always happy to help you enjoy wine on a personal level.
Hartenberg – divine wines and wonderful staff make this one of my favorite places to hang out in the winelands.
Fairview - they have got the tasting room scene down to a fine art.

I would like to name those who have been less than helpful but we could have a war on our hands and I just did my nails.

I'd love to hear your opinions on any good or bad experiences you have had.


Aunt Chard