The New York Department of Taxation and Finance recently issued a technical memo on the wine tasting exemption.
New York generally taxes the sale or use of wine. There is an exemption, however, for wine and wine products furnished at certain wine tastings. These are wine tastings held by a winery, farm winery, wholesaler, or importer at its licensed premises. Wine tastings held at other locations are not exempt. Businesses must offer a number of different wines to taste. A winery or farm winery may charge a fee for these tastings. Wholesalers and importers may not charge for an exempt wine tasting.
For this exemption, "wine" is the product of normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of grapes, other fruits, or plants. It includes champagne, sparkling wine, and fortified wine. It does not include beverages with an alcohol content of more than 24%. "Wine products" are beverages that contain wine and have added juice, flavoring material, water, citric acid, sugar, or carbon dioxide. They do not include beverages with an alcohol content of more than 6%.