Tastings in ABC stores start Thursday

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A number of new state laws go into effect Thursday July 1, including one allowing ABC stores to hold liquor and wine tastings. This is the first time these kinds of events will be held inside the government regulated stores. In its first weekend in effect, customers will be able to choose from more than sixty scheduled tastings statewide. That includes several here in Richmond.

Walk into the ABC store in Carytown Thursday evening and you'll notice a never before seen site-a table set up specifically to give customers a chance to sample the goods.

"Sometimes it's a new or high end product. Sometimes it's not; but either way if a customer wants to purchase it, they can find out it's something they like the taste," explained Becky Gettings with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Vendors request the time and ABC location where they want to hold the tastings and they'll decide what products to sample. But the events come with rules and regulations. Customers are limited to three half ounce drinks. The total cannot exceed 1.5oz.

Vendors are responsible for checking identification to make sure everyone is at least 21. They're also looking for signs participants may already be intoxicated. If so, they're required to refuse the tasting.

If ABC employees notice a customer is drunk after the tasting, they can stop the event immediately.

"They are responsible as our employees are responsible for selling and serving within the law," said Gettings.

Customers hope this will ensure a safe environment for shopping and sampling.

"You don't want to have people taking advantage of the free booze at the liquor store," said customer Nathan Tersteeg. "So, to put some precautionary measures in place is probably a good idea."

Virginia wine vendors can also hold tastings. For those, customers are limited five ounces total.  Starting Thursday, ABC will post the list of events and locations on its website each week.

For more information, Click Here.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved