Free Tastings Can Get Expensive, Study Shows

Written by Cory Chandler

DATE: March 23, 2006
CONTACT: Cory Chandler,
(806) 742-2136

Sense of Obligation, Gratitude may Spur Sales at Small Wineries, Study Says

LUBBOCK – Motivated by a sense of obligation, winery visitors often will lavish more money on purchases following a free wine tasting than when they are asked to pay for their sampling, researchers in the Texas Tech University’s Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute have found.

Analyzing data collected at six wineries located throughout Texas, institute researchers found that visitors spent an average of $9 more purchasing products from wineries that offer free tastings than from those that charge a tasting fee.

“People feel that it is not appropriate to walk out empty-handed,” said institute director Dr. Tim Dodd. After paying a tasting fee, people are less likely to feel obligated to purchase additional wine, Dodd said. This scenario is especially true at smaller, independent wineries that constitute the bulk of Texas establishments, he said.

Visitors, however, will not buy wine purely out of a sense of obligation. The research found a strong link between obligation and gratitude toward winery personnel. If people wish to convey their appreciation, they are more likely to spend money at wineries, said research associate Natalia Kolyesnikova. If they are not fully satisfied with their visit, they may not feel the obligation to buy.

Kolyesnikova analyzed 357 responses to questionnaires distributed at wineries in North Texas, Central Texas, the Texas High Plains and along the Texas coast. She found that respondents spent, on average, around $25 in the tasting rooms of wineries that charge for a tasting and dropped close to $34 at those that offer free tastings.


CONTACT: Dr. Tim Dodd, director, the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3077, or

Natalia Kolyesnikova, research associate, the Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3077, or