Business, Customer Service

What Goes Into a Tasting Event?

I get several requests a month to conduct a wine tasting. The initial request is pretty basic, it goes something like this:

“Hi, we were wondering if you would be able to do a private wine tasting party at our house. It would be for my sister’s bridal shower, and we’d have about twenty people. The event is next week. Can you give me your prices?”

There are a lot of variables in that request, so I send an email back and ask a few questions: How many wines do you want in total? What wines/regions interest you? Red or white?

The bottom line is largely determined by how many people are attending your tasting. In this case, we had six attendees and the cost was kept down because we only needed one bottle of each wine!

Just Gimme the Numbers!

Asking too many questions tends to chase people away, so I’ve learned to give a quick ballpark quote instead.

The quotes are based on a standard tasting: Two hours long, six wines, six appetizers, serving materials and expenses included. I show up at your venue with everything, including the glasses, ready to go. The guests can sit back and let me take the wheel.

This is the model that I use to provide a quote, but I make it clear that prices can vary depending on the number of guests, number of wines, and the price of the wines. (Note: We can also skip the food pairing, or do fewer wines for a tighter budget.)

Where Did Everyone Go?

After quoting, I notice that some people will disappear and never respond. Curious to know why, last time that happened, I reached out to ask the person about it.

His answer was, that he thought my pricing was really high. All he wanted was a guy to come to his house, pour wine and talk about it a little. He ended up hiring someone who charged them $75 for everything.

That seemed really low, so I asked him how it went. The answer was that the he (the host) ended up buying all the wine and the food. He and his wife did all of the prep work, the shopping, the cooking, and the wine guy just showed up, poured and talked for an hour.

A Wine Living tasting event isn't just about pouring some wines for you - it's a custom-made, private party that centers around wine and food.

Not Just Wine Pouring, but Wine Tasting

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple, but that’s not really a wine tasting. Anyone can pour wines. Heck, you can do that on your own and save the cash.

When people ask me to conduct a tasting event, I treat it as just that – a special event that revolves around the wine, from beginning to end. I have almost a decade of knowledge to share, and that’s what you’re getting for your money. I show up at your door with a complete interactive experience that is fun and immersive.

Some of the people that come to me for wine tastings expect me to inherently know everything. But while I may know a thing or two about wine, I still need some input from you to design the event. That means discussing what you’d like to learn, type of wines and food included - even dietary restrictions. Don't worry, I don't ask too much, I just need some guidance so I know where to begin.

Doing the Math

Most of the cost for an event is in the materials. The basic math goes like this:

1 wine bottle has about eight glasses in it. If the event is for 20 attendees, I’ll need 3 bottles of each wine (24 glasses) to cover that.

If we do the standard tasting of six different wines, that means we need 18 bottles in total. At the average of $15 for a bottle of Premium wine, you can see:

18 bottles x $15 = $270

An example of some of the items I bring to every tasting.

Getting the food for a tasting event often involves multiple trips to the store, or in this case, the farmer's market. I always try to get the best, most unique and freshest ingredients possible for the lowest price.

Behind the Scenes

Roasted red beets with mozzarella and balsamic, and sauteed Crimini mushrooms with rosemary...

...or how about homemade deviled eggs, and rock shrimp with red pepper and garlic? That's how we eat at a WL event!

...or how about homemade deviled eggs, and rock shrimp with red pepper and garlic? That's how we eat at a WL event!

The cost for the wine and food itself is the most obvious part of the equation. But on top of that, there is much more involved in setting up your event.

Shopping for the wine is an art in itself. It can take hours in a store, to find just six wines in the the correct price range and region. Sometimes it means shopping at multiple locations. Having experience with this helps save time and money.

For every event, I give out a handy guide that shows the wines, regions, the flavors and the foods that will pair with them; so guests can find everything at the store. It's a custom leaflet that I compile, design and assemble myself. This typically takes about a half day to complete.

When I know what wines we’re serving, I then construct a menu that pairs one appetizer with each wine. Since most of it needs to be fresh, I have to shop for it, prepare and plate most of it on the day of. You’re literally getting fresh, handmade food as if you ordered it from a restaurant.

Every event includes my own wine glasses, plates, napkins and utensils too. Glasses and other service items have to be washed before and after the event. For some events, I buy giveaway prizes and raffle items. And if the venue is far away, travel time is involved.

The Bottom Line

So hopefully you can see, there’s a lot more to an event than just the obvious costs of wine and food. My hourly rate includes all of the intangibles, including years of experience and education that go into preparing an event like this. All said and done, the bottom line looks like this:

Cost for Wines and Materials + Hourly Rate = Total Charges

Gimme a call! We gonna have a good time!

Gimme a call! We gonna have a good time!

The final number may surprise, so I often give a per-person cost. In those terms, it’s more affordable. The average charge is about $30 – 40/pp: Much less than you’d see for six apps and six wines at a restaurant, and probably less than you’d pay at any public wine tasting event.

I hope this helps clarify a bit, and if you have any questions or would like to do a tasting, I’d love to collaborate with you and show you just how much fun a true wine tasting can be. I'm pretty open and transparent about everything and I want you to know: Your money will be well spent. Give me a call!

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