A Cautionary Tale

Posted by Keith Wallace

Through my winery excursions, I seek to explore the different ways in which positive winery experiences are evoked.  An extra pour, a particularly engaging or knowledgeable person pouring, a free loaf of bread.  But I also have had, fortunately not too often, a negative winery experience, and I was really struck by the impact of that experience on the wine itself.  This is not really surprising since the context in which we sample wine does influence the wine’s taste.

My significant other and I were tasting in a wine area of New York when we came upon a winery at which the person pouring the wine appeared overwhelmed.  She remarked many times how busy the tasting room was (although there were only about six people) and frequently lost track of what she was pouring for whom.  It was clear she wanted to do a good job, but her struggle led to anxiety that was actually palpable to others.  We just wanted to finish our tasting and leave so she could have two fewer people to deal with.  

We later learned this was a winery well known for high-quality wine. Interestingly, however, neither my significant other nor I could recall anything about the wine itself.  We remembered the experience (as strong emotions do often get recalled quite clearly), but I was struck by the fact that we couldn’t conjure up any thoughts we had when we tasted the wine. 

Just as a positive winery experience can enhance the customer’s likelihood of making a purchase and potentially enhancing the taste of the wine itself, a negative winery experience can detract from the taste of even high-quality wine.

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