Foodstuffs: Committee To Study Sampling Of Beer And Wine At N.H. Farmers' Markets

May 1, 2015

Among the tables featuring fresh fruits and vegetables at New Hampshire farmers markets this summer, you’re also likely to see small craft breweries and wineries selling their creations.

Tasting one of these alcoholic beverages, however, will have to wait until after you purchase it and take it home.

Jane Lang is president of the New Hampshire Farmers Markets’ Association. She says it’s important to taste samples of food and beverages before you buy—it helps the consumer choose—and this is especially important for wine and beer.

"Because there’s such a variety of flavors and tastes, I think it would benefit the seller," she says.

She envisions a system similar to the one used at grocery stores like Market Basket, where small samples are handed out to adults who can prove their age with a valid I.D.

Any system, Lang says, would have to ensure safeguards to make sure people don’t abuse the system.

A legislative study committee is now tasked with figuring out how the sampling system would work. State Senator Dan Feltes says there are quite a few details to figure out before sampling can begin.

"How big is the sample? How many samples? Who oversees it? What’s the oversight responsibility? When in the day?" he says. "All of those sorts of things will have to get ironed out."

The committee, made up of one state senator and four members of the house, has until November 1st to present a report—which means sampling of beer and wine at Farmers Markets likely will not start this year.

As part of the study, these legislators will be talking with stakeholders across the state, as well as representatives from farmers markets in Vermont, where sampling of beer and wine already is legal.