Do You Need A Liquor License To Offer Wine Education Classes?

A business offering wine education classes does not hold any license relating to alcoholic beverages. The classes that it conducts for a fee require the consumption of wine (wine tasting). Does the business need a liquor license or permit to conduct wine education classes at licensed on-premises location in New York?

In the case considered, the business would take care of reservations and advertisement for classes through its website.

Wine to be served at all classes would be purchased and served by the on-premises licensee a restaurant or bar. The business may, as all on-premises customers may, request specific wines for the retailer to purchase and offer at the event. Class participants would pay the on-premises licensee for the wine served at the class and then pay the business for the education and materials provided.

ABCL §111 prohibits a licensee form making their license available anyone. ABCL §100.1 provides that only those with an appropriate license may sell or give away alcoholic beverages within the State.

Is the business engaging in decisions and sales that are required to be made by the on-premises licensee? In short, would the business be “availing” the on-premises licensee?

When determining if a retail licensee has made its license available to another, the Members of the Liquor Authority generally examine the role of the licensee in the operation of the premises. The Members generally ask whether the licensee is playing a passive role and if an unlicensed person is acting in their place.

Under the facts presented in this situation, an on-premises licensee would retain all control of the premises while hosting a wine education class. The licensee buys the wine, chooses the selling price of the wine, serves the wine and is directly paid for the wine. Although the business may suggest or request specific wines be purchased for the class, a licensee is not obligated to honor such request and retains control of their product selection. Accordingly, there is no argument that this is availing and does not violate the ABCL §111.

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