Don’t Go Without A Guide
Are you taking advantage of the free secret weapon that can help you find the best wines on the market, for the best value, before your friends find them, without making a second full time job out of it?
The world of wine is a savage wilderness. There are thousands of wines, and new ones coming to market every day. I work in the wine business and everyday I see new wines that I’ve never heard of. No wonder it’s bewildering for consumers. No wonder lots of people give up and buy based on labels and advertising budgets.
Why go into this wilderness without a trusted guide, someone who will navigate the quicksand and tiger traps, someone who can lead you to the gems and hidden treasures? There are plenty of people like this who want to help you, and they want to do it for FREE.
They are the people in smaller retail shops. A little time invested getting to know a knowledgeable wine merchant will pay handsome dividends.
A good retailer looks for good value wines that aren’t in every other store. They don’t want to compete on price with the grocery chains that get better pricing because of the sheer volume they buy. A good retailer is most interested in smaller production wines that show some character of the place they were grown.
Of course, all of this isn’t to say that you still won’t still pick something off the grocery store shelves now and then. But when you want something special, something distinctive you’ll do much better with a little help. Most wine retailers taste hundreds of wines each week. I know because I used to stand in line with all the other wine sales reps, waiting my turn to give my pitch, pour whatever wine I was showing that day, and hope they might buy some.
In short, they know which wines give the most bang for the buck, no matter what price range. Even with the cheap stuff you’ll do much better buying from a small retailer than buying off the bottom shelf at the grocery store. Small production wines won’t make the cut at most grocery stores if they don’t produce in large enough quantities to supply the whole chain of stores. That means the wine is made in massive quantities, and may be just fine, serviceable wine, but it won’t be anything special.
Now is a perfect time to be a wine buyer. Sales are down for most restaurants and retailers and they are happy to have interested customers thirsty for wine and wine knowledge. Wineries are also looking for more business and we may see prices adjust down as a reflection of the need to move wine. Remember wineries can’t store wine indefinitely, they have another harvest coming into the winery every fall. They need to make room. And not all wines benefit from aging, most of them need to be consumed.
So put small retailers to work for you. Find one whose shop you like, one who seems to “get” what your tastes are. Let them know what you like, what price range you’re looking for, the more specific the better. They’ll be happy to keep an eye out for wines you might like, wines you might never find on your own. Wines you can share with you r less well informed friends.
If you’re a good customer and you’re feeling a little cheeky, let your retailer know that you’d be interested in any local trade tastings. They may not be able to take you to some of the exclusive ones, but some are big events and it’s not uncommon for VIP customers to attend as guests of a restaurant or retailer. Don’t be a freeloading time waster, but if you are a wine buyer, your retailer will ALWAYS be interested in showing you things that you might buy.
If you are planning a trip to wine country, any wine country, let your retailer know, and ask them for recommendations of which wineries to visit. They may even be able to hook you up with private tours or other special treatment.
I guarantee that if you let a knowledgeable wine retailer guide you through the labyrinthine world of wine your experience will be much richer and much more rewarding. And you’ll be a much happier wine consumer.