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Tastings at VA ABC stores begin Thursday

The new law authorizes representatives of distilled spirits and wine companies to conduct tastings on an ABC store’s premises, beginning July 1. No word on any announced events for the Venable Street location.

From the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control:

The law is designed to increase customer service by allowing customers to sample selected products before they purchase them.

Customers can only sample the product(s) being offered for tastings at each event and the vendors choose the product(s) they wish to showcase. Up to three products can be offered by vendors and the tastings can last no longer than two hours.

The rules are similar to tastings that are currently permitted at restaurants such as a maximum limit of three ½ oz. samples per person of legal age for spirits or a maximum of 5 oz. of wine.

Vendors will be permitted to prepare mixed drinks for the tastings as long as the drinks are prepared at the store and may not contain more than a ½ oz. of alcohol per drink.

The sample must be finished or discarded before the customer leaves the sampling area.

Vendor representatives are responsible for verifying the ages and sobriety of people sampling products. ABC store associates are responsible for their usual verification of a customer’s age and sobriety. It is illegal to serve alcohol to someone under 21 years old or someone who is intoxicated.

The bill was passed by the General Assembly during the 2010 legislative session and Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the legislation into law.

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