There are a number of wine tasting suppliers out there, we aim to offer some impartial advice on the factors you may wish to consider before choosing a supplier for a wine tasting. Some companies, like are flexible, and can offer any type of wine tasting event the client desires, but not all companies are, so you should know what you want, and how to find it!
What’s the purpose?
Be clear on what type of wine tasting event you are looking for. Is it educational, entertaining, a ‘drinking’ session, a team building, to impress a client, to have a competition? Different suppliers will have a variety of stances and be sure they are able to manage these requirements.
Off the shelf or tailor made?
Some wine tasting suppliers offer standard tastings, others offer tailored wine tastings according to client needs. In some respects there is nothing wrong with standard wine tastings. However, a tailored wine tasting costs no more to deliver for a client than a standard one. Is the standard wine tasting offering reflecting something else (limitations of the knowledge of the presenters or limited sources of wines available)? Particularly if your wine tasting is accompanying food, try to understand how the wines will be matched with the food (or the food with the wine)
What style do you want from your presenter?
This is probably one of the most important things to consider. He or she is key to your wine tasting event’s success. Make sure you get the chance to at least talk to the presenter on the phone before your event – use your instincts -if they don’t engage you on the phone, they probably won’t in front of an audience either! Think about what style you want: serious, amusing, knowledgeable, approachable, a stand up comic or a lecturer?
What information do you want from your presenter?
Do make sure the staff running the event are qualified in wines and spirits. It may seem odd to say such a trivial point, but we know of wine tasting suppliers where the person running the tasting has very little knowledge about wine at all, they use a standard package, a standard talk and fall down at the first sniff of a difficult question. With the exception of those that regularly drink Blue Nun, your guests will soon know if the wine tasting presenter knew what they were talking about. The credibility of the whole event rests on the credibility of the presenters.
Do you want your event to sell wine to your guests?
Be clear on whether wine will be sold after the wine tasting event. Events with a wine sales element, will naturally have a sales ‘pitch’ however subtle. It may also limit the choice of wines presented, as presenters may be working on sales commission on top of their fee.
How do I compare costs? The hardest question to answer.
Firstly try to get a sense of the type of wines that you will be drinking at the wine tasting. Ask for examples of wines each supplier plans to use in your tasting. Any wine tasting event cost will be made up of fixed costs and the wine costs. Wine is often the most variable part – you could be drinking a £2.99 bottle of plonk or a £100 bottle of fine wine. If the wine tasting supplier is providing the wine, and there are no corkage charges, the wine element should be at normal retail price. But be warned, some will charge restaurant prices. In this business, a ‘Price per head’ is notoriously difficult to quote on, particularly if attendee numbers may fluctuate, and if wines are truly tailored to the event. Where prices per head are quoted immediately on a website for example, you should expect an off-the-shelf standard tasting. Try to understand how many people are making money along the way – are you dealing with an event management company (who is of course adding an additional fee), or directly with the wine tasting supplier? Usually the smaller the company, the lower the overheads and therefore the lower the price to the customer. As with all purchases, be clear whether prices include or exclude VAT.
One Recommendation: Champagne Tuesdays
Champagne Tuesdays will typically quote a total wine tasting event price, which will be for an estimated number of people. If numbers fluctuate significantly, the price will of course change. All events and the wines used are tailored to the client, but they do not use poor quality wines though. Ever. Where food accompanies wine tastings they will always endeavour to ensure the two are appropriately matched. We are happy to discuss with venues, caterers and others how best to do this. Champagne Tuesdays staff style is typically very entertaining and enjoyable, although they are also qualified tutors, so if a more formal approach is required it’s no problem. Champagne Tuesdays wine tasting events are focused around enjoyment, not sales. http://www.champagnetuesdays.com
Chris Hambleton of Champagne Tuesdays writes wine tasting and wine related articles for a range of press and media. He can be commissioned for one-off or regular articles as appropriate, on a range of wine or spirit related topics. http://www.champagntuesdays.com