Get Your Tasting Notes Right: A Quick Guide

Are your tasting notes out-of-date, boring & full of technical wine jargon? Consider this piece of paper an incredible opportunity to connect with, impress and inform your customers. 

Cleverly designed, engaging and interesting tasting notes can take the pressure off the staff, facilitate sales, encourage social media interaction, build brand awareness and even be educational. This list details the basics, so once you get these sorted it’s time to get the design & the layout right.

>> Make sure the tasting notes match the wines : Seems basic but you’d be surprised how many wineries forget to update vintage changes, blend percentages or vineyard details.

>> Tasting order : You might have multiple brands or tiers however tasting order trumps everything else because it makes the most of the wine style. If you choose to order the wines differently, make sure it’s clear to your guests how to navigate it so they are not trying to make sense of a light white wine after a big red. Which leads to the point below…

>> Your brand tiers must be clear : What does each brand represent? Price tiers are helpful however a short brand statement will clarify the mix of brands and wines. I.e: ”We make wine under two brands: Brand A is all about easy drinking, delicious wines while brand B is a little more serious – designed to cellar for a few years and open on a special occasion”. Logos, colour coding and layout all can help with this – get a professional to create a template for you.

>> Have a clear policy on tasting charges : For a consumer, finding out at the end of the tasting that they owe you a tasting fee is a great way to ruin a carefully built relationship. It should be communicated clearly at the beginning of the tasting and show a statement on the hard copy too.

>> Provide notes, not essays : No matter how good your notes are, they won’t replace a great personal interaction. Keep the tastings notes short and free of jargon. Ideally, think outside the box on wine descriptions. Describing the personality & character of a wine i.e. ‘robust & a bit loud’ will resonate more than ‘high tannin & rich varietal flavours’.

>> Provide a opportunity to rate the wines : Colouring in ‘4 out of 5 stars’ on the notes, asking for a ‘rating out of 10’ or providing a ‘Deliciousness Scale’ are all ways to encourage your customers to remember which wines they liked. It builds engagements, adds a bit of fun and when it comes time to up-sell an 8 bottle order to a dozen, they won’t have trouble choosing those extra four bottles.

>> Social Media links & handles : A call to action plus all the relevant handles and links is a simple way to make sure that if your customers want to interact online, they have all the info they need.

>> Clearly communicate any promotions : If you offer case discounts, freight specials or wine club member pricing make sure the customers know! Again, these are great things to communicate verbally but a hard copy back up is great way to lock in sales.

>> Reduce Wastage : Keep track of how much paper you use and only print what you need. Using out of date notes because you don’t want to waste them is noble, but not good for your customers.

>> To laminate or not : A tough one especially for high volume venues. Ideally each person should have a copy if they prefer – in this sense the best thing to do is ask. Providing only laminated copies eliminates the opportunity to take notes so it’s always good to offer a copy for personal use.