Mar 212005
Authors: Hallie Woods

For some Denver citizens, buying certain types of wine or alcohol without knowing how it will taste or what the quality is will no longer be a concern.

A pilot project launched recently with the approval of the Denver City Council will allow Denver wine and liquor stores to provide samples to customers before purchase. The project will run for six months and will then be reviewed by the City Council.

"(The project) is being tested first and then Excise & License along with

council members, and business owners, etc., will determine after the pilot stage whether or not this will become a city ordinance," said Rita Contreras, spokeswoman for Denver Councilmember Rick Garcia.

Although the project is starting in Denver, all Colorado cities have the option of passing such an ordinance through Colorado House Bill 1021. The bill, which passed in 2004, states that "'tastings' (the sampling of malt, vinous or spirituous liquors) may occur on the premises of a retail liquor store licensee or liquor-licensed drugstore licensee" if "the governing body of the county, city and county, or municipality adopts an ordinance or resolution authorizing tastings pursuant to this subsection."

" As of now, Fort Collins does not have such an ordinance," said Marty Tharp, Fort Collins City Council member.

The possibility of these tastings may be recognized by Fort Collins City Council, however, such a project will take much consideration before the City Council will decide to try it.

"The council has not reviewed the issue because we would need additional information about the impacts on safety," said Eric Hamrick, Fort Collins City Council member.

Contreras said the project would include measures to prevent alcohol abuse during the tastings such as limitations on how much one person can consume during a tasting session. Denver will also limit each sample to one ounce of beer or wine, and one half of an ounce of spirits. The tastings may only take place Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All unfinished bottles will be removed or destroyed immediately after the tastings. A permit to allow this will include a $100 fee each year for the liquor store.

"The project allows for businesses to better market their products, and for people to try things they normally would not seek out in a liquor store," Contreras said.

After six months, the director of excise & licensing, Stephanie O'Malley, will report back to the Denver City Council with results of the trial period, and the council will decide whether to pass the ordinance based on O'Malley's recommendations.

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