The Secret to Sampling Reserve Wines Without Waste—And Upping Sales

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When is the last time you were offered a free sample of a 94-point Cabernet Sauvignon, or any reserve wine for that matter? Probably not too recently, if ever.

It's just too hard for a winemaker, vineyard, or restaurant to sample out their most prized bottles. Unless they are Va Piano in Walla Walla, Washington.

Va Piano recently had their Reserve 2012 Black Label Cab (sourced from Dubrul Vineyard) ranked an impressive 94 points by Wine Advocate. This is one of several reserve bottles they offer with a high ranking. Any of these bottles range from $65 to $100. (If you tried them, the price would not seem so high.)

One of the No. 1 ways to market wines is through sampling or tastings. Every vineyard has a tasting room; some even invest in several off-premise rooms—it's that important. Wine lovers come in and are taken through the list from lightest to heaviest varietals, but something is always missing. "What about that bottle up in the corner over there?" guests will often ask. The response is usually something like, "That is our reserve; we don't offer those for tasting, but if you join our club, you can buy one for a 15 percent discount."

Why don't these vineyards offer their highest price point wines for tasting? It's simple—open bottles have too short of a shelf life. Va Piano figured out a way around this speed bump. They recently incorporated a WineEmotion CINQUE (five-bottle) wine dispenser into their tasting room. In the CINQUE dispenser are five of their reserve wines, not included in the tasting list. The wine dispenser preserves open bottles of wine for up to 30 days. This is plenty of time to sample out higher price-point wines.

Many of the system's other core features also contribute to marketing and limiting waste: precise pour control, variable pour amounts, and LED display lighting, for example.

Guests can order a flight from the wine dispenser for $15. It's not free, but for what the bottles are worth, guests do not have a problem shelling out the extra cash. Derri Reid, Va Piano's tasting room manager, explains, "The wine dispenser is great! We use it to offer a Reserve Wine Flight and charge a $15 non-refundable tasting fee per person, unless they join one of our wine clubs. Until now, we were not able to pour these wines. In the short time we have had the WineEmotion system, we have had numerous people do the Reserve Wine Flight and then join our wine club."

Marketing and management can get very creative with the format in which they use the WineEmotion wine dispenser to increase sales and loyalty club members. "It has helped us build our wine club and sell more of our higher-end wines," Reid says.

Several other wineries, vineyards, and restaurants around the U.S. use this technology to help promote their premium wines. Sextant Wines of San Luis Obispo, California, uses an eight-bottle QUATTRO+4, as well as Tara Winery in Athens, Texas. Each team uses the wine dispensing systems in their own unique way, adding tweaks to their marketing with a common goal—to sell more wine.

WineEmotion and its team have been creating wine dispensing systems since 2002. Wine dispensers were first introduced to the U.S. in 2003 by Tuscany native and now California resident, Roberto Rinaldini, and his importing and distribution company, Rinaldini Distribution Inc. Today Rinaldini Distribution Inc. is the master distributor of the latest generation of wine dispensing system, WineEmotion.

WineEmotion is the creation of Riccardo Gosi, the inventor of the modern-day automated wine dispensing system. Each wine dispenser is designed to preserve wine for 30 days, precisely portion control, and pre-program three variable volumes between .5 and 8 ounces.  

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.


Ken Fournier

Ken Fournier is the Marketing Manager for WineEmotion™ USA ( For all inquiries, please feel free to email WineEmotion™ was created by Riccardo Gosi, the internationally-renowned originator of modern-day wine dispensing systems that have transformed how wine is sold and served worldwide since 2003.

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