Membership style try before you buy wine shop?
December 2, 2018 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Looking at another 90% full bottle of locally-recommended wine with 4 stars on vivino that isn't going to get consumed because I didn't like it. Does anything exist like a wine shop where you can pay a membership (or by the pour) to get a coravin sample of a bottle of wine before you buy it? I'm located in southern California, but curious if this model exists anywhere.

An incident last year has resulted in my taste in wine changing in somewhat unpredictable ways (yep, I've talked to a doctor). I still have wine that I really like, and some varietals I know I really DON'T like but other wines are more unpredictable. I typically buy mid-range wines that cost between $15-20 a bottle.

I know there are plenty of places where you can sample the 3 things that they're doing at a tasting, I'm thinking more along the lines of a place where I could say "I'm interested in trying these three bottles" and get small, 1/2 ounce pours using a coravin to sample them prior to buying the bottles. I've gone to my local wine stores and got recommendations, they are hit and miss as well and don't seem to be any better than me at randomly guessing if I'll like something based on wines I've liked in the past.
posted by arnicae to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
You'll have the best luck by going to a winery tasting room and paying for a tasting.
posted by saeculorum at 8:52 AM on December 2, 2018

I think that "wine bar" might be the search term you're looking for. While it may not be the case where you are, the cities I've lived in have all had a number of bars specializing in wine tasting flights and/or affordable wines by the glass far beyond the selection you would find at a winery, usually paired with small plates and sometimes with an in-house shop to take home the bottles you like best. Certainly there are quite a few in LA and San Diego..
posted by eschatfische at 9:01 AM on December 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My local wine store does this -- they have an Enomatic with 12 bottles "on tap;" pours are about a dollar per ounce. So the model definitely exists, although I don't know if it exists anywhere near you. Googling Enomatic [your city] might get you some hits.
posted by basalganglia at 9:09 AM on December 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Not sure if there's anything like this in the US, but The Sampler has many different wines on 'tap'; you pre-load a Sampler chip card and then use the card to buy auto-dispensed portions of wines. It's a good way to try out new wines, or have a bit of something quite posh you'd never splash out for a full bottle of.
posted by myotahapea at 9:13 AM on December 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

However, you can't just bring 3 bottles over to the Enomatic and get to try them -- your choices are the 12 or so that are already in the machine. I don't know of a model where a wine shop will open a bottle of your choice to sample on the off-chance that you'll buy it; what would they do if you decided you didn't like it?
posted by basalganglia at 9:16 AM on December 2, 2018

I'm East coast for the most part, but I've always been able to find local wine shops that did free (or nearly so) tastings at least once a week.

You can also go to wine festivals and try a lot of things and then order the ones you like.
posted by Candleman at 12:05 PM on December 2, 2018

We have something like this in Richmond, VA (warning: music auto-plays on the website). This place says their dispensing machines are proprietary, and I don't see any reference to franchises located elsewhere, but I can at least confirm this is a thing happening in the US.
posted by zebra at 4:51 PM on December 2, 2018

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