I’m noticing a disturbing new trend in tasting rooms (or maybe I’m just cranky).

It seems that tasting room staffers, especially the young ones, are trained to TELL you what you will be smelling, tasting and overall experiencing in the wines, instead of ASKING you what you are experiencing in the wines. I’m often sent to tasting rooms on writing assignments and I see this all the time. Even when I tell my tasting room server that I’m there on a writing assignment, it still happens. This is a pet peeve of mine.

As a longtime tasting room manager, professional wine writer, wine judge, etc. I KNOW what I’ll be tasting, as soon as I taste it. These well-intended young tasting room folks think they are doing the right thing by telling me what I’ll experience in the wines, but it just pisses me off. You see, they are not ENGAGING me. They are TELLING INSTEAD OF SELLING. I understand that it’s probably part of their routine and they can’t get away from it, but unless I specifically ask about the aromas and flavors in a wine, it comes off as patronizing when I’m told what I’m experiencing. Wine tasters come in all experience levels.

OK, I’ve vented. Now, for a solution – tasting room managers, please train your staff to ask questions, gauge your visitor’s expertise level and engage them in conversation and I predict that your sales will go up.

In the wine DTC world, there are quite a few cookie cutter techniques “guaranteed” to boost your sales and conversion rates, but it really comes down to honest engagement with every visitor. People are still people, not numbers. Engage them.

You need to look at every single customer as a valued friend (not a commodity) and treat them as you would like to be treated. Period.