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Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board suspends in-store tastings

Customers who have enjoyed a sip of a white Burgundy or pinot noir at weekly staff-led wine tastings at state wine and spirits stores will find the supply dried up for the next few weeks.

The state Liquor Control Board suspended in-store tastings led by staff in order to evaluate the program, ensure consistency from store to store and convert the paper-based training to an electronic format, spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said.

The decision was made this week, Kriedeman said, but tastings could resume “in the next couple weeks.”

Tastings of wine, flavored vodka and other spirits led by vendors will continue, she said.

“We hired a number of new retail wine specialists recently and wanted to take the opportunity to evaluate the program to make sure that they are all providing a consistent in-store tasting experience, and everyone is familiar with all of the policies and procedures,” Kriedeman said.

The LCB began the retail wine specialist program in July 2012 and, to date, has stationed 76 experts wearing green aprons at stores statewide. At least eight specialists have been added recently as well as a few others on temporary assignment, Kriedeman said.

The program aims to assist and teach customers about wine.

Wine specialists are civil-service positions with salaries ranging from mid-$30,000s to mid-$50,000s. They undergo at least three LCB training courses, with the option to take additional classes, and are tasked with answering questions, offering recommendations, hosting weekly wine tastings and compiling email newsletters detailing new products and drink recipes.

“This continues to be a very popular program,” Kriedeman said.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or [email protected].


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