Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

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EHeffner
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Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#1 Post by EHeffner » May 16th, 2019, 6:35 am

On to my 100th thread re: my first Napa trip newhere

We have 4 tastings planned for next week, all with tasting fees, with fees ranging from $45 to $85 a person. I assume it is proper etiquette to give a tip to our host/guide if we are pleased with the experience? If so, what is customary? $5 a person? $10 a person? No tip since I’m paying for the experience?

I figure a tip makes sense as the host/guide won’t see much of the tasting fee, just wanted to see what proper etiquette is
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#2 Post by Chris Blum » May 16th, 2019, 6:48 am

I’m not gonna tip on top of a tasting fee. Sorry, not sorry.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#3 Post by Victor Hong » May 16th, 2019, 6:49 am

If the host/guide owns the business, or would not seem to depend centrally on tips as income, I would not tip.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#4 Post by R. Frankel » May 16th, 2019, 8:41 am

Not sure what you mean by host/guide.

For the four tastings (I assume at wineries) I wouldn’t tip. I’ve tasted at many wineries and these don’t usually feel like tipping moments. If I like the wine, I buy a bottle. If I like it a lot, I buy more.

If you’ve hired a guide who is accompanying you or driving you around, then I’d definitely tip that person.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#5 Post by Jim Anderson » May 16th, 2019, 9:03 am

Rarely do people tip the staff here at the winery. When they do it’s almost awkward as there is no expectation of tipping occurring. I would presume this to be commonplace. Don’t worry about it. If you feel someone had gone to extraordinary lengths then go ahead and tip them but don’t feel any pressure.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#6 Post by Paul Luckin » May 16th, 2019, 9:14 am

EHeffner wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 6:35 am
On to my 100th thread re: my first Napa trip newhere

We have 4 tastings planned for next week, all with tasting fees, with fees ranging from $45 to $85 a person. I assume it is proper etiquette to give a tip to our host/guide if we are pleased with the experience? If so, what is customary? $5 a person? $10 a person? No tip since I’m paying for the experience?

I figure a tip makes sense as the host/guide won’t see much of the tasting fee, just wanted to see what proper etiquette is
as someone who hosts tastings on a daily basis, i'd say this:

tipping is never expected, and is always appreciated.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#7 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 16th, 2019, 9:45 am

Yea I’ve never thought that tipping was expected in this setting, but with memorable tastings, I have done things like send my host a special bottle of wine. Did that not too long ago at one CA winery that hosted me for a couple of hours and popped a lot of additional, and mature bottles. It wasn’t like I over-stayed the welcome, it was a slow day at their winery and things just naturally evolved. The host was a Francophile, and we talked about French wine and comparisons, so I sent him a bottle of something he had never tried.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#8 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » May 16th, 2019, 11:23 am

Paul, are there tip amounts that are so low you consider them insulting?


Separately, I would not tip in this scenario unless I felt I was getting special treatment above and beyond the experience I paid for, and even then my appreciation would more likely be expressed by and through purchases. But, that is coming from a guy who would like to see this country move away from tipping and towards paying folks living wages.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#9 Post by JDavisRoby » May 16th, 2019, 11:28 am

In my experience depends on the winery. The larger, corporate owned wineries can treat their tasting rooms like bars. As a result I’ve seen a tip line on the credit card signature slip.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#10 Post by Paul Luckin » May 16th, 2019, 11:47 am

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 11:23 am
Paul, are there tip amounts that are so low you consider them insulting?


Separately, I would not tip in this scenario unless I felt I was getting special treatment above and beyond the experience I paid for, and even then my appreciation would more likely be expressed by and through purchases. But, that is coming from a guy who would like to see this country move away from tipping and towards paying folks living wages.
insulting? no, not really. if a guest feels compelled to tip any amount i'm going to say "thank you" and assume it was because they enjoyed the experience. and like you referenced: i agree that purchases > gratuity in a traditional tasting room/seated/tour situation.

in my experience, those who want to tip will often ask if it's alright to do so (since we choose not to have a tip line on the receipt) when checking out, and the large majority of those guests are visiting from outside of CA.

ITB folks tend to be the most generous when it comes to gratuities, even when making a purchase they'll often throw a few bucks on the bar or slip it into a handshake goodbye. personally, when i go out tasting i'll make sure to tip the host as there is typically a comp or discount on purchase involved. i see it as a courtesy between fellow winery employees. $5 or $10 is enough for a beer after work and that's cool imo.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#11 Post by dsimmons » May 16th, 2019, 11:55 am

In my years of tastings I have never done it and never felt that it was customary or expected.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#12 Post by EHeffner » May 16th, 2019, 1:31 pm

Thanks for the opinions everyone! I’d rather ask beforehand than make an awkward situation for myself lol
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#13 Post by Siun o'Connell » May 16th, 2019, 8:29 pm

I always assumed the staff at tasting rooms earned some type of commission - unless of course they were the owner?

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#14 Post by brodie thomson » May 16th, 2019, 8:46 pm

Only in the United States is this even a question.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#15 Post by Paul Luckin » May 16th, 2019, 8:54 pm

Siun o'Connell wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 8:29 pm
I always assumed the staff at tasting rooms earned some type of commission - unless of course they were the owner?
Depends on the winery and their structure. Many hourly employees receive a commission based on club signups. Management might get a % of net sales or commissions based on sales goal achievements. There’s really no “standard” due to the myriad of winery operation setups.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#16 Post by Paul Luckin » May 16th, 2019, 9:00 pm

brodie thomson wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 8:46 pm
Only in the United States is this even a question.
Agreed.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#17 Post by LMD Ermitaño » May 16th, 2019, 9:25 pm

Paul Luckin wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 9:00 pm
brodie thomson wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 8:46 pm
Only in the United States is this even a question.
Agreed.
I just follow whatever the local custom may be. In the US, to my mind, the general default setting is to tip, moreso for good service. What I get confused with is when the one showing/taking me around is a winery “higher-up” or owner. In my culture, offering/giving such person a tip would be considered an insult. Am unsure what such case would be in the US.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#18 Post by David Cooper » May 16th, 2019, 10:02 pm

Pay with a credit card. If the add a tip window comes up then decide. I would say yes but I like tipping so that is my answer.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#19 Post by John Davis » May 17th, 2019, 7:30 am

dsimmons wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 11:55 am
In my years of tastings I have never done it and never felt that it was customary or expected.
This.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#20 Post by Tim Heaton » May 17th, 2019, 8:02 am

brodie thomson wrote:
May 16th, 2019, 8:46 pm
Only in the United States is this even a question.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#21 Post by robert creth » May 17th, 2019, 8:10 am

IMHO tipping is a way to compensate servers who get paid a crappy wage or those who provide a direct service. I will tip at bars and restaurants, the cable person and the person who towed my car. It would not occur to me that after paying for tasting, I should tip anyone. If I enjoyed the experience, I buy some wine, if not, I don’t. Just came back from England where tipping in pubs is considered tacky. It was a point of conversation and those English folks who have traveled to the US say they were confused by the tipping model. That and right turns on red lights.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#22 Post by Pat Esposito » May 17th, 2019, 10:52 am

The tastings we do now usually involve just a small, private group and a host that has your undivided attention for an hour or two. In those situations we always slip them a $20 or more depending on the level of service and say 'grab a beer or two on us tonight'. If they were a shitty host, we don't, but I haven't encountered many like that.

It always amazes me when people that spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on wine (and food and whisky) get so cheap when it comes to tipping.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#23 Post by Karen Troisi » May 17th, 2019, 4:27 pm

It very much depends on the winery. If the owner is not hosting, feel free to tip. Most wineries in Napa and Sonoma only give a bonus on wine club sign-ups (not a sales commission per bottle) and your host is probably earning $15-20 per hour for the duration of your tasting (this is the standard hourly wage in Napa/Sonoma and is not dependent upon bottle price or cost of tasting).

We always tip similar to enjoying a meal in a fine dining establishment.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#24 Post by Paul McCourt » May 17th, 2019, 6:20 pm

Pat Esposito wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 10:52 am
The tastings we do now usually involve just a small, private group and a host that has your undivided attention for an hour or two. In those situations we always slip them a $20 or more depending on the level of service and say 'grab a beer or two on us tonight'. If they were a shitty host, we don't, but I haven't encountered many like that.

It always amazes me when people that spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on wine (and food and whisky) get so cheap when it comes to tipping.
I'm pretty much of the same mind. Depending on how I'm feeling at the moment I'll mostly grab a few bills and say thanks. Sometimes not. I don't sweat it and I don't really ever angst over it. In the moment I basically try to think "don't be a dick" and the rest takes care of itself, but what I am not going to do is run a million permutations through my mind to try and figure out the "right" amount or deeply contemplate whether I should or should not tip.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#25 Post by James Billy » May 17th, 2019, 9:44 pm

The workers in Socialist countries get sufficient pay as to not need a tip. [snort.gif]

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#26 Post by David Wright » May 17th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Do you live in a socialist country? Do you need a tip every time you do your job? [snort.gif]

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#27 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » May 18th, 2019, 5:33 am

James Billy wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 9:44 pm
The workers in Socialist countries get sufficient pay as to not need a tip. [snort.gif]
The state doesn’t own the means of production in the US. Some distribution systems are state owned (PA & NH).

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#28 Post by mike pobega » May 18th, 2019, 5:36 am

Owner/winemaker-no tip. It's bad form. If I gave Thomas Rivers-Brown a C-note at the door, he'd run me over with an exotic car and I'd be full of Rutherford dust........
Employee does an awesome job, tip. I am sure always appreciated.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#29 Post by Sean Devaney » May 19th, 2019, 7:47 am

I don't tip but I do send an email to the winery when I have an exceptional experience (or a poor one.) I have given a few bottles to tasting room staff over the years.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#30 Post by Steve Crawford » May 19th, 2019, 7:51 am

wait, people actually pay for tastings?
/s

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#31 Post by Siun o'Connell » May 19th, 2019, 8:56 am

I'm still wondering about Robert Creth tipping the cable guy .... and thinking the Brits know anything about good service.

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#32 Post by Blake Brown » May 19th, 2019, 9:04 am

I tip for services that are rendered with passion, precision and consideration regardless of any other costs. Its about reward for those who serve righteously. Why not encourage more of the same for others?
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#33 Post by Chris Blum » May 19th, 2019, 9:55 am

Why not expect people to provide a modicum of customer service as part of their job?
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#34 Post by ykwon » May 19th, 2019, 7:21 pm

mike pobega wrote:
May 18th, 2019, 5:36 am
Owner/winemaker-no tip. It's bad form. If I gave Thomas Rivers-Brown a C-note at the door, he'd run me over with an exotic car and I'd be full of Rutherford dust........
Employee does an awesome job, tip. I am sure always appreciated.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#35 Post by Bob Davis » May 19th, 2019, 9:00 pm

Visited Napa last fall and considering the size of the fees being charged, I would not consider tipping.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#36 Post by Gerhard P. » May 20th, 2019, 8:44 am

I have no idea of tastings in Napa - only in Europe - and I usually (almost) never pay for tastings, so also no tip.

But what I do almost all the time is bringing an interesting bottle with me, usually from Styria/Austria ... or an Austrian GV or Riesling etc.
Always appreciated - and more often than not I get something (in bottle) back - in addition to what I usually purchase.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#37 Post by Randy Bowman » May 20th, 2019, 7:49 pm

Define HOST.

If you are hiring somebody to drive you around to the tastings and they have arranged the tastings, you tip.
If you are hiring somebody to drive you around to the tastings and you arranged the tastings, you tip.
If your host is a friend, buy him lunch, dinner and offer him $100. He will refuse it.
If your host is the winery, no tip. Buy wine.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#38 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » May 22nd, 2019, 2:29 am

I hope you all tip your doctors, lawyers, accountants, kids' teachers, optometrists, investment brokers, etc etc etc, too. I'm with Chris --- to a certain extent, good customer service should be expected, and when it is provided it's reasonable to simply call it a Good Business Decision, as good customer service encourages repeat patronage.

My previous post re: tipping for service above and beyond that which you paid for still stands, however.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#39 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 22nd, 2019, 4:53 am

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 2:29 am
I hope you all tip your doctors, lawyers, accountants, kids' teachers, optometrists, investment brokers, etc etc etc, too. I'm with Chris --- to a certain extent, good customer service should be expected, and when it is provided it's reasonable to simply call it a Good Business Decision, as good customer service encourages repeat patronage.

My previous post re: tipping for service above and beyond that which you paid for still stands, however.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#40 Post by K John Joseph » May 22nd, 2019, 3:18 pm

Bob Davis wrote:
May 19th, 2019, 9:00 pm
Visited Napa last fall and considering the size of the fees being charged, I would not consider tipping.
So this was my deal. I get pinched into a tasting at Hall for various reasons that don't matter here. Tasting is $125 a pop for my wife and me. I buy a six pack of fairly expensive stuff while we're at the 90 minute tasting which was okay because the group we were paired with was young and fairly fun. Otherwise, it's a basic tasting, just their higher end (but not highest end) stuff. Some nuts, some cheese, 5 or 6 wines from various plots and vintages. Guy hosting talks about the wines, but not a ton to it. Tasting fees not comped on the 6-pack purchase. 8 seats at the table or so. It's like $1000 to the house for the tasting. I did not tip above the $250 we paid in tasting fees. Some of the other folks did and I was very surprised and kind of felt like a bastard. But at the same time, did not feel like a tip was necessary, expected, or appropriate in the situation.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#41 Post by Matt K » May 23rd, 2019, 1:01 pm

I tip any tasting room staff member that provides excellent service and can answer my asinine questions. Owner/winemaker I wouldn't consider tipping.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#42 Post by Jason T » May 24th, 2019, 2:03 am

K John Joseph wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 3:18 pm

Tasting fees not comped on the 6-pack purchase. 8 seats at the table or so. It's like $1000 to the house for the tasting. I did not tip above the $250 we paid in tasting fees. Some of the other folks did and I was very surprised and kind of felt like a bastard. But at the same time, did not feel like a tip was necessary, expected, or appropriate in the situation.
Fees weren’t comped? Yikes. That’s steep. I would not have tipped either.
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#43 Post by Nate Simon » May 24th, 2019, 3:20 pm

At the prices charged at almost all of the Napa places, the idea of tipping is the equivalent of saying, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?“

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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#44 Post by Brandon R » May 28th, 2019, 9:47 am

We went to two wineries this weekend in the Yakima Valley. At one, we were the only ones there and the winemaker, a very nice young man, was pouring. There was no charge for the tasting, but we each bought a few bottles (which is customary for me when there's no tasting fee). Then, upon swiping my card on the iPad setup thingy, he turns the display around for my fingertip signature and there's the first screen: how much to time. It was based on the price of the bottles and I absentmindedly hit 15%. I just tipped the dude $10 for selling us wine. I don't blame him, but I just don't see the need to tip someone for selling me something (which, for me, is what a tasting is designed to do).
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Re: Tipping your Host on a Paid Tasting

#45 Post by Craig G » May 28th, 2019, 11:55 am

I tip the winery owners too. Have you seen the country club dues in the Napa area?
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