New Ohio law allows free samples of beer, wine

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A new state law will allow Ohio retailers to hand out free samples of beer and wine.

Existing state law allows sampling of beer, wine and spirits at retailer such as grocery stores and wine shops, but customers have to pay for their samples.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the new measure -- which takes effect July 10 -- allows retailers to host free tastings. But it preserves a minimum 50-cents-per-sample charge for liquor stronger than 42 proof.

Consumers shouldn’t assume all wine or beer samples will be free starting in July. Many wine tastings held in the region’s retail shops are hosted by representatives of wine distributors that act as wholesalers in Ohio’s alcohol system, and distributors are excluded from the new law, reinforcing the line of separation between wholesaler and retailer.

State Sen. Jim Hughes, a Columbus Republican who sponsored the legislation, says the law will lead to more sales, more state revenue and "ultimately aid in job creation."

Hughes says no opposition emerged to the bill as it made its way through the Legislature.

Some stores that WCPO talked with said they would likely keep some nominal charge to cover the cost of the tastings.

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