Laws pretaining to wine tastings - Printable Version

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- Stellarheat - 08-03-2001 09:01 AM

I am a member of a small business association in a small town in Wisconsin. Our association members would like to have a wine-tasting event. We would have people come into each of our stores for a taste of a wine. I haven't been able to determine if a liquor license is required in order to serve the wine in our stores.....does anyone out there have experience with wine tastings of a similar sort? Do you think it would be necessary to have a license?

- Bucko - 08-03-2001 09:15 AM

This is the biggest mess in the US. 50 states and 50 liquor laws. Contact your state liquor board for clarification in your state. Penalities can be quite steep for doing what you want to do in some states.

Wisconsin Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement
Department of Revenue
4610 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53708
Phone: 608/266-3969
Fax: 608/264-9920


- mrdutton - 08-03-2001 09:19 AM

In Virginia, for instance, a special license is required in addition to the license to sell. Pours are also restricted to one ounce. That's not a whole lot of taste - for sure.

However, most winery reps don't worry too much about liquid measure......

- Thomas - 08-03-2001 11:07 AM

In my experience, whenever you contact a liquor control office the answer is NO. Seems to me, if you buy the wine at retail then you have every right to give it away to your customers. But you best have liability insurance to cover any, and I mean any, automobile accident. That one will get you but good, in any of the 50 greedy states.

- wondersofwine - 08-03-2001 03:32 PM

Let us know if it works out. I, for one, would visit stores that had wine for tasting. Is it a progressive wine tour like a progressive dinner?

- RAD - 08-07-2001 08:27 PM

I recently became aware that this differs in different states, as Bucko points out. For example, I know that in NY, you cannot have a wine tasting at a wine shop unless an employee of the wine that you are tasting is present (I believe this is right; Foodie, correct me if I'm wrong).

I visited a wine shop in Boston this past weekend, and they told me they were having a tasting soon. I asked how this was possible, knowing what I did in NY, and they told me that it's entirely legal in MA.

What was interesting is that MA law permits them to have "nosings," but not tastings, of spirts. Said shop recently hosted a "cognac nosing" where patrons could sniff, but not swallow, the cognac! Kind of like Bill Clinton and pot-- [img][/img]


- Thomas - 08-08-2001 11:34 AM

RAD, the latest in NY, is that a wine shop can have a tasting without a winery or distributor rep on-hand. But this fellow is not talking about a wine tasting in a wine shop. He is talking about a bunch of merchants (who have no license to sell wine) offering tastings as a promotion device, and that could be a problem in some states, especially in the area of liability.

I assume that since he/she/whatever has not responded to our response, the matter is either dropped or going in a new direction...

- Stellarheat - 08-08-2001 12:42 PM

Thanks for all your responses. I have had discussions with our village board and they have unofficially refused to give us even one temporary liquor license for one location. If we filed a formal application, they may ultimately be required to issue a license to us.....but they could stonewall us for a number of months with committee reviews. We wanted to do this event on Sept 15 and 16. So we are forced to go to an alternative plan. We have 4 WABC Business Association members that have licenses. So we will have our wine tasting in their 4 locations and have Wisconsin cheese and sausage sampling at the same time in some of our other member locations that can not serve the wine. YOU ARE ALL WELCOME TO ATTEND! ! ! Thanks again, Ray.