Ever wanted to sample a wine before buying the whole bottle? Seems reasonable, but until earlier this summer if you wanted a test drive you'd have to wait for a special wine-tasting event or hedge your bets on a glass at a restaurant.
June 10, 2011, changed all that. Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that allows for sampling of distilled spirits (beer, wine, and liquor) at restaurants, bars, and liquor stores.
Michael Hughes, general manager at Joe's Wines and Liquor, has wasted no time getting tastings set up at the store. Fridays and Saturdays from 3 to 6 p.m. you can sample a selection of wines, high gravity (high alcohol) beers, or liquors. They will also have special offers and discounts for purchasing a bottle of one of the sample items during the tasting.
"The law is kind of vague," says Hughes, who is also the wine columnist for the Flyer. "It doesn't state that we can only pour between certain hours. It doesn't state that we can only pour a certain number of days, but it does state that it can only be complementary tasting and that it can only be one-ounce pours of each product that we're offering."
Those restrictions don't seem too onerous, and Hughes is pleased with the new law.
"It's been a nice thing to be able to offer to our customers an extra bit of service," he says. "It's one thing to gain people's trust and introduce them to a product, but it's another thing altogether for them to taste it and be able to decide immediately if they like that product and want to take a bottle home."
So far, Joe's has offered tastings of of wines, a St. Germain sparkling wine cocktail, margaritas, and beers.
"We've got a huge beer selection, so it's going to be fun to showcase those," Hughes says.
For more information and details on tastings, check out Joe's Facebook page or call the store.
Joe's Wines and Liquor, 1681 Poplar
This Saturday, July 9th, Drew Barton of the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest will be giving demonstrations of homebrewing at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. Barton will be giving general advice, and from 9:30 to 10 a.m. and 10:30 to 11 a.m., he will give specific instructions on brewing.
"It will be a condensed version of [the homebrewing process]," Barton says. "The idea is to show people how easy it is to brew beer."
So what kind of beer will you be making if you attend Barton's demo?
"Probably American Pale Ale," he says. "It's one of the easiest to get started with."
Homebrewing kits and ingredients will be for sale at the market. According to Barton, the process consists of four parts: brewing, fermentation, conditioning, and bottling. If you try your hand at it, you could have around 48 bottles of homebrewed beer in as little as six weeks.
Memphis seems to have caught the brewing bug. Barton has been brewing for 10 years, including some time doing professional brewing in Asheville, North Carolina.
"There's not too much of a brewing community [in Memphis]. There's basically Boscos and Ghost River, so it's not as big as some other cities, but it's got a lot of potential," Barton says. "I'm working on opening a brewery in town."
Look for Barton's booth at this Saturday's farmers market, and mark your calendars for the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest on October 15th.