Explore our timeline to learn more about the history of Tastings, the Beverage Testing Institute and the people, our customers and the events that have shaped our company.

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To provide real reviews with real results for the wine, spirits and beer industry. Helping people to discover and understand drinks they'll love!


Conduct blind, industry tastings for the wine, spirits and beer industry. Produce objective ratings and reviews for marketing and quality beverage development.


Our objective tastings shut down biases toward a product and creates a level playing field for review. This spotlights the benchmark quality attributes of a product, helping consumers and producers to focus on the beverage they like the most.

Who is Tastings?

Since 1981, we've been delivering reviews for wine, spirits and beer to help consumers discover and try quality brands. We love to hear from new brands and current customers and have conversations about drinks and the drinks industry. Some people might call us connoisseurs, but Tastings is built firmly on a foundation of scientific, organoleptic evaluation. What's organoleptic? We experience products by taste, sight, smell and touch. Our highly organized blind tastings are completed in our tasting suite to control any external factors and maximize our judges' concentration. We take away the branding, remove the price variable, and taste every beverage blind in a bias-free environment. Every month, Tastings.com features a new category of wine, beer, and spirits reviews with special focus on value-oriented and unique products we find through our tastings. This creates fresh content for consumers and provides sales success for brands. People engage with Tastings.com every day and every brand included on it. We are a unique, high-touch, boutique marketing resource for beverage brands.

What is the Beverage Testing Institute?

The Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) has been submersed in the wine, spirits and beer industry for over 35 years. Knowing the challenges time and budget place on buyers in a competitive marketplace, BTI was formed from this need. In 1981, there was no international review company for wine! BTI was launched and decided to post all reviews on the Internet so that everyone could access the objective and educational information. This type of sharing and transparency hasn't changed. Today we are proud to be a highly skilled group of judges, influencers and educators. While BTI became famous for its full review service to the wine industry, the spirits and beer brand owners quickly evolved with our company. We help serve several facets of spirits brands in product development, fault findings, and flavor profiles with key costing analysis. We provide time-saving and cost-saving benefits to beverage departments, buyers and vendors.

Our Team Members

We are extremely proud of the 80 years combined experience that drives our company. To be the best company, we must be the best employer. Meet the team of passionate Tasters of Tastings!

Jerald O'Kennard, Director

A graduate of the University of Chicago, Jerald has enjoyed over a decade of food and beverage management and event management experience. He first worked with BTI as a senior panelist because of his remarkable sensory abilities, quickly joining the team in 2000 to launch e-commerce development and database management. He brings his influence in both high arts and business to a robust model of organization and creative direction at Tastings. He is a contributing writer for several news publications and often consulted and interviewed for NY Times, Business 2.0, Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal and Reuters. He loves to travel and learn from wine, spirits and beer producers around the world. In what little spare time he has, he is developing our interactive video series, composing music and recording albums for movie soundtracks. His passion for life revolves around the "Three C's" of culture, cuisine and celebrations.

Laura Kruming-Berg, Assistant Director

Laura is a Certified Specialist of Spirits and professional spirits nerd with an affinity for unique regional liqueurs and single malt Scotch. Previously a BTI judge, Laura joined the Tastings.com team where she uses her passion for flavor to serve as panel moderator, editor, and a lead in the consulting division. Laura has spent a decade in the bar and restaurant industry doing it all from barback to director of a multi-outlet hotel beverage program. She has spoken at the NRA's BAR show and competed in numerous cocktail competitions, including the all-female speed-bartending competition, Speedrack. When not indulging her passion for spirits, Laura is with her wife, their new baby girl, and their Italian greyhounds. She believes that there's a finite number of drams to enjoy in one's life, why not have an excellent one?

Debra O'Kennard, VP Strategic Juggling

Beginning her food career serving hash and flipping burgers at the local Woolworth's at the tender age of 15, Debra brings her passion for food and great wine to her multi-functional role at Tastings. She has worked for more than 30 years in the food industry including a role with Arnie Morton and 15 years with the Chicago Caterers & Culinary Enterprises. She ran a successful catering company of her own until she joined Tastings in 2002 as lead Administrator and troop rally'er. Taking the helm for the company's accounting, HR and project management, Deb has an innate sense of execution and when to throw in a life preserver. She enjoys being a mother, coach and leftover sample taster. In her downtime, you'll be sure to find her at the local farmer's market or newest haute cuisine restaurant where she'll snap a photo of a memorable dish only to deconstruct and recreate it for our readers.

Gallit Greenspoon, Production & Project Coordinator

Gallit began her career in the media production world and spent 10 years producing everything from infomercials to political spots for a then unknown Barack Obama. In 2004, she took a job on "Check, Please!" and after 5 years, the restaurant world had her hooked. She took her talents to the front of the house, doing everything from events to hosting to managing. While learning the ins and outs of the restaurant scene, she also wanted to broaden her knowledge and love of whiskey—working with both Diageo and Angels' Envy. Gallit joined the Tastings team in 2016 in order to help boost social media and assist in marketing efforts. Being around all the wine, spirits, and beer is very rewarding because after becoming a mom of twins in 2015, alcohol has become especially important!

Steven Polanco, Marketing & Production Assistant

After growing up in a small town in Northern California, Steven decided to try his hand as a dishwasher in fast-paced seafood cafe. Working in different positions in the back-of-house led him to discover his passion for food, beer, and wine. This discovery led him to Chicago, where he decided to try his hand in the beverage industry as a Marketing & Production Assistant for Tastings.com. Being a member of the Tastings team enables him to help develop his natural skill set as a multi-tasker, team-supporter, and a problem-solver for Tastings' customers. During the rare moments he is not working, you can find Steven cooking meals for himself and his friends, studying the humanities, going to concerts, and planning his next destination spot.


Tastings is a community of people that work, contribute and support our mission to bring the best drinks to consumers. We're an exciting place to work for dedicated beverage professionals. Are you creative? Are you critical? Are you trustworthy? You might want to join our team. Contact us by emailing: bti@tastings.com


We welcome your comments or suggestions. Feel free to contact us about Tastings.com by emailing: bti@tastings.com