I work at a winery, my wife works at a winery so we get lots of free wine.
It’s a great industry perk and I never tire of coming home to find a case of wine sitting on our kitchen table and Christine saying they had to clean out some inventory.
For me, the real bonanza comes when my winery is bottling. As I understand it, the line crew pulls a sample at different points of the day. They label these samples “End of Day” or “Lunch Break” with the date, and the lab crew will conduct quality control analysis if they have time. Often they don’t have time or need to do multiple tests a day so samples can end up on a counter in the lab and become take home wine. When I first started at Starmont they were just beginning a massive bottling of zin and I’d come home at the end of the week with two or three bottles.
Christine and I were joking the other day about starting up a custom label under the name “Lunch Break.” I thought it had a nice ring to it and gives one a sense of indulgent relaxation. We ultimately decided that Americans still have too much of a stigma about having a glass of wine with lunch during the week. (Myself, I like a couple of gin gimlets with a Coors chaser. Goes great with an egg salad sandwich!)
The most free wine I got my hands on came when I worked at Beringer. That winery bottles an insane amount of wine under myriad labels and the line seemed to be running every day. Once a day, me and the other interns would go down to the QC lab where there was usually a couple of cases of wine with ripped labels, askew labels or other small flaws that kept them from being shipped out.
When I my harvest gig at Beringer was done the pantry in my little one bedroom apartment in Napa was stuffed with something like 13 cases of wine. In the following months of unemployment, however, that stash was much reduced.
(I’m kidding about my usual lunches, I hate egg salad!)