by Sarah Shotwell
To Tip or Not to Tip? The topic of gratuity is one that can spark much debate and confusion. Here in the states, we tip everywhere and for everything. We tip the cab driver, the server, the hair stylist, the barista, the bartender, and the masseuse. In wine tasting rooms, however, where hosts might offer multiple pours, an advanced wine education lesson, a tour, and/or up to an hour of personalized conversation to a customer, often without the promise of even a tiny sale, tips remain inconsistent. Tasting room attendants don’t really know if they should expect tips, and customers don’t really know if they should give them. With that in mind, and with almost a decade of tasting room hosting experience under my belt, I thought I would offer some basic suggestions.
To start, if you received outstanding, memorable service, do tip your host. Five to ten dollars per party is a solid amount. On the other hand, if you received really poor service, please don’t tip. The wine industry prides itself on passion. Reinforcing bad or neglectful service just hurts everyone involved. Lastly, if your friends would like to tip, please don’t tell them not to. This is something we’ve seen a lot in the tasting room: even after receiving exceptional service, a customer will tell his or her eager, generous party not to tip because “it’s not what you do at a winery.” This is not true. It’s also demoralizing to a host who has done a great job. Ultimately, whether or not to tip (and how much) is really up to the customer. Just know that in the tasting room, just like any other service establishment, tipping is a way you can communicate gratitude to someone who has gone above and beyond in their efforts to show you a great time. And don’t forget: a good tip means even more when it isn’t required!