Some of the drinks trade’s biggest groups have said that they won’t turn up for tastings without being given bags of wonga first.
The Global Association of Sommeliers (GAS), have said their members will no longer turn up unless they receive ‘a decent day rate, a free Riedel glass to cover the ones we keep breaking and, ideally, a decent lunch.’
‘Our members are incredibly busy,’ said Pierre Tire-Bouchon of GAS. ‘There’s simply no way they can find the time in their packed schedules to come to events.
‘Though it’s amazing how quickly the diary frees up at the promise of cold hard cash.’
Hand it over
The demand was backed up by drinks writers.
‘Our members’ day job is whingeing, arguing and shouting on Twitter,’ said Beau Jolais-Cru of the Keep Giving us Bottles (KGB) union.
‘Tasting new products is really only a tiny part of what they do. So if producers want them to give up precious social media time, they’d better be prepared to pay.’
Jolais-Cru said that, with so many events now taking place, it was important for writers to be able to distinguish ‘essential, must-attend’ events from less important ones. ‘And a little gentle bribery is as good a way of doing that as any.’
‘Every time I go to one of these tastings it costs me time and money,’ said drinks writer Boo Zhack. ‘Well, time, anyway.
‘It’s about time the trade realised what a huge favour I’m doing them by tasting 50 of their wines for free.’
Some merchants have suggested that sending out miniature samples might help avoid the need for appearance fees. But this was rejected by journalists, who dismissed them as ‘too small to taste properly’, ‘riddled with Argon taint’ and ‘not big enough to get through a dinner party.’
Parker Roberts of the Group of Boozy Scribblers, Hacks and Industry Taste Explainers (GOBSHITE) said the best solution was to do away with the ‘outdated’ concept of the tasting altogether, and replace it with an alternative that was ‘fit for the 21st century.’
‘Ideally importers should deliver as many bottles to our members as they want, whenever they want – preferably with a brand manager for each wine,’ he told Fake Booze.
‘That way they can get all the information they need in one place without having to leave their sofa.’
When told that this would render the entire drinks trade bankrupt within a fortnight, Roberts said this ‘wasn’t our problem’ and suggested that merchants ‘look closely at their business model.’
Help for heroes
The public are right behind the scheme.
‘I had no idea how hard these people worked,’ said John Public. ‘I used to think that getting to taste unlimited amounts of booze for free would be a dream job. But in fact it sounds like a nightmare.
‘Frankly, appearance fees is the least these heroes deserve. I’d give them a medal.’