A quart of milk, a sip of wine

The South Mercer Island Quality Food Center is a friendly neighborhood store where workers and customers alike know each other and share smiles every day. Since 2010, the store’s wine department has shared in the community with wine tastings every afternoon except Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“We put out different wines based on things we’ve tasted and liked,” wine steward Jeff Rasmussen said. “And I pick things I know customers like. In the summertime, it tends to be more obscure whites.”

Rasmussen and co-steward Riley Davis help introduce customers to wines they might not know about otherwise.

“We generally tend to show wines that are more obscure and original,” Rasmussen said, “and it seems that customers like that.”

Customers often buy wine after tasting it.

To have a wine tasting, a grocery store must obtain a license from the State Liquor Control Board, serve food with the tastings and notify the state at the beginning of each month of when the tastings will be held. Customers must drink the wine within the tasting area and may have no more than four ounces total, and no more than two ounces of a specific wine. Those 40 years old and younger must show a valid ID, and visibly intoxicated customers will be refused service. Rasmussen said the South end QFC has never had a problem with intoxication, although other stores have.

Rasmussen and Davis usually have four bottles out for tasting. Customers can have one ounce of each of the four if they like. The number of people who come to try new wines depends on the night.

“Some nights we get 10 people; sometimes, we get 40-50,” Rasmussen said. “It depends on what’s going on. It’s a neighborhood store, and people often have kids to take care of. They might be in a rush, so they can just come try a wine quickly, then buy it.”

The North end QFC is currently undergoing renovations, but will most likely have wine tastings when the remodel is finished.


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