A furious row has broken out over rates of pay for tasters in drinks competitions, with talk of strikes, pickets and the introduction of a minimum wage.
‘My members have had enough,’ said Jeremy Corbavin, union rep for the Group of Boozy Scribblers, Hacks and Industry Taste Explainers (GOBSHITE).
‘Hundreds of them are giving their time for free while fat cat competition owners get rich on the profits,’ he fumed, going on to describe drinks competitions as being ‘like Victorian workhouses, only with claret.’
‘Saying that tasters don’t need paying because they get the chance to taste lots of wine for free is plain wrong,’ he went on.
‘Particularly if they’ve just spent eight hours tasting Carmenere.’
Renée Clio of the French drinks union Liberté Degusté Medaillé (LDM) has called for a co-ordinated worldwide boycott until conditions improve under the slogan Expectoration not Exploitation.
‘Lifting up hundreds of glasses a day is backbreaking work,’ she told Fake Booze.
‘And being locked for 12 hours at a time in a room full of fat sweaty people with red-wine breath and no deodorant puts your average Bangalore sweat-shop to shame.’
LDM is joining with GOBSHITE in calling for co-ordinated unrest during the competitive judging season until their demands are met.
But threats to boycott the spit bucket have cut no ice with competition owners.
‘Most of them swallow everything anyway,’ said one. ‘Particularly if you give them a flight of the good stuff.’
Both bodies are asking their members to gather outside competitions and dissuade judges from coming in by waving bottles of terrible cheap hipster-wine.
‘Our members are strong and united,’ says Clio, ‘We are confident that no-one will try to cross the piquette line.’
Know your place
However, Saul Oozer, head of the Mega Wine Competition said that, strikes or no strikes, they had no plans to change their current arrangement of ‘Rewarding Talent and Letting Grunts Go Hang’.
‘Our top tasters obviously get paid because they’re highly respected palates,’ he said. ‘But the rest are just room meat, frankly, so we don’t owe them a damn thing.’
Key roles for junior tasters, he said were to ‘make the competition look busy’, ‘provide body heat to keep the bills down’ and ‘agree with everything their elders and betters say.’
A spokesman for the Gargantuan Booze Awards also said that they were at ease with the current arrangement of ‘an honest day’s work for an honest day’s free samples. And a sandwich.’
‘We genuinely believe that we are paying our tasters exactly what they’re worth,’ they told Fake Booze.
‘Which for most of them is nothing.
‘Sorry, is that thing still recording?’
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