Sunday, October 01, 2006

Through A Glass Wastefully

As my wife and I have made our way across the Connecticut Wine Trail this summer, I've been both delightfully surprised and disappointed by what we've found. In one regard, we're downright annoyed -- by the profusion of winery glasses foisted upon us.

At the vast majority of wineries we visited this summer we discovered that we had no choice but to buy wine glasses bearing the winery's logo. I say buy, even though the glasses are supposedly free when you pay your tasting fee. Now, we have more wine glasses than we know what to do with.

Almost every winery these days charges to taste. It's true in California, and it's true here in the Northeast. It doesn't matter much whether the wines are held in high regard or not, a nominal fee is the norm. I don't really mind. It's fair for wineries to recoup the overhead costs of employing people to serve those wines, and it's understandable that they want to do something to weed out frivolous "drinkers" from the serious tasters.

But, I object to paying for wineries' more overt marketing efforts. It's obvious that wineries like to send customers home with glasses bearing the winery name and logo so that they will serve their friends wine in a miniature glass billboard. A tacit endorsement of the winery. The problem with this is that you know the cost of all those glasses is built into your tasting fee, so by taking the glasses home and using them in front of friends you are taking on some of their advertising costs.

I suppose for young couples just starting out, the glasses really can be a help. But for those of us who have invested money in acquiring the right glasses, these winery glasses can be an annoying waste. Of course, you can always refuse to take the wine glasses, but I more or less look at that option as leaving money on the table.

We have done winetastings everywhere from Virginia to Napa, and it seems like it's only here in the Northeast that so many wineries try to foist their wine glasses on you. It's probably a case of trying a little too hard for recognition. Can you imagine if every winery you visited on a trip to Napa or Sonoma or Bordeaux gave you glasses? Where would you put them? How would you get them home without breakage?

One of these days we'll have to hold a stemware tag sale. Maybe then we can get a refund on excessive tasting fees.


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