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Wine snobbery as a tactic for losing customers

I know a good bit about wine. Working at a restaurant with a number of sommeliers and a former Rothschild family chef gave me a good head start on my education.

I’m a “snob” in the sense that I like to drink good wine, but I also believe that you can buy good wine for under $10, and that every person has their own palette and tastes. DC, apparently the “thirstiest (non)state in America” has a number of intriguing wine shops, with Bell Liquor and Wine being one of my favorites (Spain and Italy need some work, but California and France are very well represented). Bassins and Total Wine are other shops to check out in the area.

Recently, my significant other and I went to another wine shop in downtown DC. We were hosting some friends, and one of them enjoys Columbia Crest Chardonnay. I was looking for a bottle of Ch√Ęteau Duhart-Milon Pauillac 2004, a wine that I had heard positive things about. The man working in the wine area seemed offended that I didn’t realize that he was essentially sold out of all 2004 Bordeaux’s. Undeterred, I meandered away to look for a Ribera Del Duero.

Meanwhile, my significant other began to ask the man for help finding the Columbia Crest and a Lambrusco. Before I knew it, the man was berating her, telling her that this was a “fine wine” store and that “he never carried those types of wines.” He continued to harass her as she walked toward me, and we promptly left the store. They lost two very good customers that day.

Aside from the fact that she had purchased the same wine there a month earlier, there were a number of problems with this incident.

  • First, and most offensive, was the man’s general demeanor.
  • Second, I’m not sure what “fine wine” is.
  • Third, the wine, for around $8, routinely scores mid to high 80’s in Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast. While it’s a mass market wine, there is nothing inherently wrong with liking whatever you like. Quite the opposite.
  • Finally, a wine shop owner who appreciated introducing others to good wine would have guided us in a helpful and encouraging way to a similarly priced buttery and fruity Chardonnay. I could have done it myself, but that’s not really the point.

My favorite wine blogger (video blogger) and all around hilarious guy, Gary Vaynerchuk, likes to say, “you, with a little bit of me, we’re changing the wine world, whether they like it or not.”

That experience is one of the reasons it needs to change.

Check out Gary - he brings the thunder. And he gets both wine and new media.

I’m currently loving - 2004 Tinto Pesquera Ribera Del Duero. Tell your friends that it’s a “fine wine.”

Cheers.

One Comment

  1. Yuck! This is why the wine world needs changing! Thnx for adding this post, it is seriously helping :)!

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 2:12 am | Permalink

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