Wine & Cheese Time

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: On weekend evenings, I also plan to have such things as a wine and cheese party. Is that a good idea?

A: Why just weekends? I love those social hours because I like getting to know the other guests at the inn where I’m staying. The awkward silence at breakfast as sleepy people gather to eat disappears because most of the guests know each other from their interactions the afternoon/evening before. Why wouldn’t they work during the week too?

Are they a good idea? It depends on your market niche and your location. I’ve seen them work very well and I’ve seen them flop. Part of it is the expectation you set, part of it is presentation, and part of it is timing. I think if you effectively communicate what the guest experience is, and talking about the wine and cheese party is part of that description, you will find these work very well.

7 thoughts on “Wine & Cheese Time”

  1. but first, find out if it is legal to serve wine…. if there is any question about serving wine, or if you want it just for weekends, then consider a full pitcher of iced tea or lemonade in the warm months and coffee/tea/cocoa in the winter, with cookies, homemade crackers or cheese straws or something similar…. let that time period also be your own relaxation time, so that you greet guests at your own most gracious self.
    The inn is ready, the guests are due, the refreshments are handy, then is a time to crochet or knit or read… total relaxation… that also provides an additional conversation starter for your guests after you have taken them to their room… “whatcha making???” The needlework is good because you can talk to a guest, and you can partake of the refreshments yourself without overdoing the calories. and if you crochet, it’s a good time to make Christmas ornaments, snowflakes ALL year round…. some, even for the gift shop(?)

  2. Pamela, that’s a great point about making sure it’s legal to serve wine at your inn (or what it takes to serve wine legally). Colorado has a B&B Liquor Permit that allows license holders to legally serve alcohol to their overnight guests. They don’t have to be open to the public and they can’t sell the liquor.
    While you’re throwing out tasty-sounding ideas, what about a selection of soda pop with pretzels or popcorn? Chili on a cold afternoon would be great too (it’s dropped below 10 degrees here tonight, so chili sounds excellent at the moment).
    Have fun with your afternoon social hour. Let your imagination run wild! Just make sure you don’t let your imagination run over you or run you into the ground.

  3. there’s an old tavern trick… salty popcorn, free to the drinkers, makes them thirsty and they want more beer… popcorn is a money maker for the tavern, but I’d not have it often at the B&B, if at all… buttery popcorn leaves stains on the upholstry and it can’t help but get dropped now and then..
    I’d want to serve something that is either very quick to make… or inexpensive to throw out, hence my suggestion for lemonade, iced tea, coffee, tea… some would want, some not.
    I’d have pop available too, but not “out” for that social time… not exactly how I’d work it, you certainly would not want/have unlimited choices, but at that hour, late afternoon, early evening, it would be that welcoming bite and beverage that is “just enough” without being a BIG gulp before dinner elsewhere…
    another reason for not having the wine… you don’t want them to leave YOUR place tipsy… then have an accident and you be liable… It might be “legal” but then again, your insurance might be the deciding factor…

  4. I agree with Pamela. In Hawaii, a friend was the local ABC inspector. When we were first in business, we would leave a small gift basket in the room with a couple of champagne glasses and a bottle in the refrig. While over at her house one day for an appliance call ( I also had an appliance service business) I asked her about that. She said that it was illegal as it would require a beer & wine license and the usual public hearing before the liquor commission. I also checked with an attorney friend and he informed me about the liability issue. The conclusion is in most areas, it is better to just provide the glasses in the room for the guests and let them buy their own alcohol. And as a small inn if you look at the cost of a bottle of champagne or wine, it averages 10% of a room night. Now this is not being cheap or picky but to be successful, you must consider the cost of all these little touches and decide whether it is really necessary and makes sense.

  5. I think it also depends on your location and local laws. We are in the central Virginia wine country, and moved here from Napa California. Both locations give wine with the state and (if you want to be really careful which I will do) the federal license. We are allowed to build the wine cost into the room charge, but not allowed to give it away. I have checked and even the wineries say they have not had problems. I think that is because in a wine country you get guests that are seriously interested in wine and don’t tend to overdrink. I’ve been running a wine tasting tour while we are building our inn, and in a year and a half have not had any drunk people when we go out tasting at from 4 to 6 wineries.

  6. I agree with Erika. Only once in five years did we have a drunk. And as a former resident of St Helena in the Napa Valley, a B&B there without wine is like a B&B without lots of pillows on the bed! Do what works for you but be sure you get all the answers before you do it so you can live with the results without trouble.

  7. There is also a program that is directed towards restaurants which train you and/or your staff in the handling and serving of alcohol. In restaurants when you get this training your insurance rates are lowered. I don’t recall the name of the program but any good restaurant manager would know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if B&B insurance recognizes it since I’m not open yet and have not gotten that far.

Comments are closed.