Previously, tastings had to take place in a restaurant or bar that had an on-site sale permit, and wine or liquor suppliers were forbidden to bring samples to an event. Instead, they had to sell their products to the retailer as an intermediary before tastings could be held. Tennessee becomes the 35th state to allow tastings in a liquor or wine store, and many of your favorite merchants are rushing to plan new tasting series.
And it's not limited to organized events. I remember several trips to Martin Wine Cellars in New Orleans where the proprietor opened bottles behind the counter for customers to sample. I can guarantee I went home with new wines — and more than I had planned to buy — thanks to the opportunity to try something unexpected.
Hoyt Hill at Village Wines is taking immediate advantage of the new law. He has scheduled "golf widow/widower tastings" on Saturdays from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. so you can try two to three wines while your spouse plays 18 holes.
And in a novel offer, Hoyt is also willing to open any bottle in the store for you to try (and share with him) as long as you commit to spending at least five times the cost of the bottle during your visit. So if you promise to buy a case of wine for $125, you can sample any $25 Pinot Noir in the store. Or if you agree to spend $24,000, he'll even open that bottle of 1998 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Cros Parantoux.
I personally can't handle that kind of mathematics, but at least it's nice to know we now have the opportunity.